Research Group Chromosome Structure and Function

Group Leader: [link]Prof. Dr. Andreas Houben



Research Interest

Our group is interested in deciphering the function, regulation and evolution of plant chromosomes. With our work we contribute to the IPK research themes FSP2 “Genome diversity and evolution” and FSP3 "Mechanisms of plant reproduction".



We are particular interested to:

(I) Decipher the process of uniparental and type-specific chromosome elimination for the improvement of haploidization methods


Topics: centromere assembly and (in)activation, kinetochore complex, CENH3, wide hybridization, B chromosome drive and drift


Related examples:

  • Sanei et al. (2011) Loss of centromeric histone H3 (CENH3) from centromeres precedes uniparental chromosome elimination in interspecific barley hybrids. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 108: E498-E505.
  • Banaei-Moghaddam et al. (2012) Nondisjunction in favor of a chromosome: the mechanism of rye B chromosome drive during pollen mitosis. Plant Cell 24: 4124-4134.
  • Karimi-Ashtiyani et al. (2015) Point mutation impairs centromeric CENH3 loading and induces haploid plants. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112: 11211-11216.
  • Ishii et al. (2016) Haploidization via chromosome elimination: means and mechanisms. Annu. Rev. Plant Biol. 67: 421-438.
(II) Analyse the structure, regulation and evolution of chromosomes and genome


Topics: allopolyplodisation, Aurora kinases, centromere organization and assembly, CENH3, KNL2, sister chromatid cohesion and chromosome condensation, SMC complex, holocentric chromosomes, post-translational histone modifications, telomeres


Related examples:

  • Demidov et al. (2005) Identification and dynamics of two classes of Aurora-like kinases in Arabidopsis and other plants. Plant Cell 17: 836-848.
  • Martis et al. (2012) Selfish supernumerary chromosome reveals its origin as a mosaic of host genome and organellar sequences. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109: 13343-13346.
  • Heckmann et al. (2014) Alternative meiotic chromatid segregation in the holocentric plant Luzula elegans. Nat. Commun. 5: 4979.
  • Marques et al. (2015) Holocentromeres in Rhynchospora are associated with genome-wide centromere-specific repeat arrays interspersed amongst euchromatin. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112: 13633–13638.
(II) Develop and improve chromosome analysis and manipulation tools


Topics: CRISPR, live cell imaging, super high resolution microscopy (SIM, PALM), single pollen genotyping, flow sorting, single-copy FISH


Related examples:

  • Teo et al. (2011). Induction of telomere-mediated chromosomal truncation and stability of truncated chromosomes in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant J. 68, 28-39
  • Dreissig et al. (2017) A live cell CRISPR-imaging in plants reveals dynamic telomere movements. Plant J. 91 (2017) 565-573
  • Dreissig et al. (2017) Sequencing of single pollen nuclei reveals meiotic recombination events at megabase resolution and circumvents segregation distortion caused by postmeiotic processes. Front. Plant Sci. (in press)