The development of a multicellular organism involves constant changes in gene activity in a stage- and tissue-dependent manner. Instrumental to this multicellular development is the ability of the nucleus to modify its program by switching on or off whole sets of genes and changing its protein and RNA composition. Understanding which biological mechanisms underlie nuclear re-programming is a major challenge and one of the key objectives of our group. We study the organization of chromosomes and the spatial position of chromosomal loci in interphase nuclei of A. thaliana in relation to their activity. One of our goals is to map physical interactions in plants between chromosomal regions, such as regulatory sequences and their cognate genes. The aim of this project is to identify 3D positions of genomic loci and proteins in nuclei from leaf and apex tissues of A. thaliana and maize. The PhD student will apply a combination of immunolabeling and FISH techniques to analyse the location of proteins and target sequences involved in flowering. Using confocal microscopy, he/she will measure the frequency of co-localization of sequences of interest and the spatial position relative to other loci, proteins and nuclear reference points such as chromocenter, nuclear envelop or nucleolus. A whole-mount FISH approach will be used to verify and quantify chromosomal interactions identified by EpiTRAITS collaborators in single cells. The generated data will be used to construct a predictive model for the functional 3D-organization of chromosomes. To achieve our goals we will collaborate with several different partners within the EpiTRAITS consortium. This project will be supervised by Dr Paul Fransz.
-Master’s degree in Molecular Biology, Celbiology or Biochemistry (or equivalent) -Experience with microscopical techniques -Experience with data analysis techniques -Ability to work in a team and independently -Highly motivated to pursue a career in science Background/expertise in (epigenetic) gene regulation