Proteins provide the chemical basis for all processes of life. We investigate their origin and the evolution of their folds and mechanisms of action by means of bioinformatics, biochemistry and structural biology.
The Department of Microbiome Science is broadly interested in how interactions between humans and their gut microbiota influence metabolism and obesity. We explore how interactions between host genetic status and the microbiome influence host metabolic phenotypes.
How do developmental processes change during evolution? We take an integrative approach and try to link evo-devo with population genetics and evolutionary ecology by studying the nematode Pristionchus pacificus, which lives in a defined scarab beetle ecosystem.
The brown algae have been evolving independently of animals and land plants for more than a billion years. We exploit these organisms to understand the origin, evolution and regulation of sexual systems diversity and multicellular development across eukaryotes.
There is tremendous phenotypic diversity between and within species. Much of this is thought to reflect adaptation to the environment. Drawing on tools from high-throughput genomics to forward genetics, we are investigating the mechanisms responsible for adaptive variation.
Research Group Leader: Honour McCann
Our work is focused on understanding the origins of plant disease outbreaks, how pathogens adapt to novel hosts and coevolve with ancient ones.
Research Group Leader: Estienne Swart
Ciliates are diverse and widespread microbial eukaryotes. We are investigating two of their distinctive peculiarities: the extensive, developmental transformation of their germline genomes into somatic genomes, and their evolution of multiple alternative genetic codes.
NMR spectroscopy is a powerful tool for examining the structure, dynamics and interactions of biological macromolecules in solution. The NMR spectroscopy group is part of the wider structural biology platform within the Department of Protein Evolution, and is involved in several projects investigating protein structure and function. Several projects study the evolution of complex protein folds from simpler peptide units.
Folding, unfolding and degradation of proteins is mediated by complex macromolecular assemblies in the cell. We investigate the structure, function and evolution of these nanomachines.
We use various biochemical, biophysical and microbiological techniques to explore conserved structural characteristics of proteins and their importance for function, by going from prokaryotes to eukaryotes.
We employ classical biochemistry, X-ray crystallography and spectroscopic approaches to study biomolecular interactions in contexts ranging from enzymatic catalysis to macromolecular complexes.
We use bioinformatic approaches to elucidate the structure, function, and evolution of proteins.
We combine electron cryo-microscopy, molecular dynamics simulations and bioinformatic tools to study the emergence and evolution of the cytomotive function of actin and actin-like proteins.
‘Selfish’ RNA likely is at the origin of all life on earth and it persists today in the form of retrotransposons and RNA-based viruses. We study human LINE-1 and Alu RNAs and how these ‘molecular parasites’ copy their sequences into genomic DNA. We determine and interpret molecular structures combined with insight from biochemical approaches and cell-based assays.
We study the relationship between humans and their gut microbiota by focusing on associations between specific microbes that are under the influence of host genetics (i.e., heritable microbes) and their effect on host weight, adiposity, and other health-associated phenotypes. We are interested in the mechanisms underlying the associations between host phenotype and the ecology of heritable microbes.
Methanogenic archaea inhabiting the gut are under the influence of host genetics (i.e., they are heritable) and are also associated with host metabolism and other health-associated phenotypes. We are interested in the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms underlying these associations.
Environmental changes shape developmental and behavioral traits in the nematode Pristionchus pacificus. The molecular mechanisms associated with such phenotypic plasticity are under scrutiny at our group.
Our group is analyzing large-scale sequencing data for finding the genetic basis for various traits and to characterize general patterns of genome evolution in nematodes.
We combine molecular and genetic approaches to study life history switches and reproductive strategies in parasitic nematodes of the genera Strongyloides and Onchocerca.
Nematode biology, phylogeny and ecology: Being convinced that environments shape genomes we hope that the study of ecology, behaviour, interactions and relationships of nematodes in nature will explain many results molecular biology provided already but could not be explained so far.
The molecular control of cellular differentiation and development in marine algae is largely unexplored. Our group aims to address this by understanding how the epigenome influences the complex life history and reproductive cycle in red algae.
We use molecular, genetic and bioinformatic approaches to study the genomic barriers to reproduction in brown algae, with a specific focus on the role of sex chromosomes.
Our group is interested in signaling pathways that link fertilization with the onset of embryogenesis in plants. We are focusing on factors provided by the male gametophyte that play an important role in gamete interaction and early embryogenesis.
We use a comparative approach to study the evolution of gene regulation and aim to associate gene regulatory changes with the adaptive evolution of complex traits.
As of November 1. 2014 Prof.em. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard is heading a research group: Colour pattern formation
Elisa Izaurralde and her department of biochemistry studied post-transcriptional mechanisms of gene expression, focusing on various aspects of RNA biology. The department used an interdisciplinary approach combining biochemistry and bioinformatics together with structural, molecular and cellular biology.
Plants, like all multi-cellular organisms, have to develop from a single cell. In our group we are studying temporal and spatial signals that guide the establishment of the initial body organization in early embryogenesis.
He has developed models for biological pattern formation that account for essential steps in development. Meanwhile many of the predicted interactions found are supported by molecular-genetic observations.
My work is mainly concerned with the relation between life sciences and physics in general, as well as with the theory of pattern formation and neural development in particular.