Applied Chromosome Biology

Leitung: [link]Prof. Dr. Hua Jiang

Telefon: +49 (0) 39482 - 5875


The research group has a general interest in mechanisms establishing chromatin modifications and their impact on plant reproductive development and evolution, with the ultimate aim to apply this knowledge in crop improvement. With our research we contribute to the IPK research theme FSP2 “Genome diversity and evolution” and FSP3 "Mechanisms of plant reproduction".


The eukaryotic cell is under constant threat from transposable elements (TEs) that can cause damage through the expression of aberrant gene products or the activation of transposition, leading to genome instability. The main mechanism to protect against the deleterious effects is by targeting TEs for silencing mediated through chromatin modifications. With our research we aim to understand how chromatin modifications initially targeting transposable elements for silencing.


Polyploidization is a widespread phenomenon in plants and is considered a major speciation mechanism. Unreduced gametes are known to facilitate polyploid formation, however, the mechanism of unreduced gamete formation is largely unknown. Moreover, newly formed polyploids (neopolyploids) have to overcome difficulties in meiosis and changes of genome dosage. Epigenetic alterations play an important role in overcoming these difficulties. With our research we aim to understand the mechanism of unreduced gamete formation, and elucidate the mechanisms causing epigenetic changes in response to polyploidization.


While our main focus is on basic research questions, we also strive to translate our research into crop improvement. Epigenetic diversity has emerged as a new source of phenotypic variations to ensure the yield and quality of crops. With the knowledge of chromatin modification establishment, we aim to develop and improve tools for epigenome editing and apply them on crops like barley and wheat.