Research Group Chromosome Structure and Function

Group Leader: [link]Dr. Andreas Houben

Research Interest

Our group is interested in deciphering the function, regulation and evolution of plant chromosomes.



We have particular interests in:


The structure and regulation of mono and holokinetic centromeres are still enigmatic. Particularly we are interested in the role of the centromere during the process of uniparental chromosome elimination, which occurs in several interspecific hybrids of plants. Supernumerary chromosomes (B chromosomes) are used as a model to reveal the mechanism of chromosome nondisjunction.


In plants, the cell cycle dependent phosphorylation of histone H3 has been linked to chromosome condensation and segregation. Our results indicate that Aurora and Haspin kinases have the ability to phosphorylate histone H3, which is essential for genetic stability. We aim to determine the interaction between different histone modifications and their corresponding regulators. 


Engineered minichromosomes offer an enormous opportunity to plant biotechnology as they have the potential to simultaneously transfer and stably express multiple genes. Following a top-down approach, we truncated endogenous chromosomes in barley (Hordeum vulgare) and in Arabidopsis by integration of T-DNA constructs containing telomere sequences.


To analyse the structure and dynamics of specific chromosomal domains (eu- and heterochromatin, centromere, telomere) we label them by GFP, FISH and immunostaining and analyse them in interphase and during cell divisions by Super Resolution Microscopy. In particular, we investigate the function of the SMC complexes cohesin and condensin.