Our Research

Epigenetics and Stress Biology in Plants

Complex organisms are masters of dynamic genome regulation. This is especially true for sessile plants that are exposed to an ever-changing environment. But how can one genome give rise to the different cell types that eventually make up an entire organism? And how can one genome shape individuals that differ in phenotype and function? Our lab studies epigenetic phenomena in plants to answer such questions.

Epigenetic processes provide a fascinating metastable layer of chromatin regulation. They can modulate gene expression in response to internal and external signals. Importantly, altered chromatin states and thus gene expression patterns can be passed on across cell divisions or even generations without changes to the underlying DNA sequence itself.

Our lab integrates modern data analyses techniques, genome-wide epigenomic data, molecular biology and classical physiology to study questions related to the three key themes. We are interested in understanding:

  • lasting effects of environmental exposure i.e. “memory effects” in plants
  • the role of epigenetic phenomena in plant developmental transitions
  • application of “memory effects” to prepare plants to future climates