The major research areas we focus on in the Gene Regulation group as well as our involvement in collaborative subprojects are the following:

  • In Hypericum, we have uncovered HAPPY, a locus which co-segregates with apospory, an important component of apomixis (Schallau et al. 2010); we further this work in terms of fine-mapping of this locus and transfer of candidate genes to the sexual systems with an anticipation of mimicking apomictic traits.
  • Another focus of our research aims at the identification of regulatory networks that control gametophytic development. We have discovered a novel class of transcription factors, known as RKD factors. RKD genes are preferentially expressed in egg cell of wheat and Arabidopsis. Their ectopic expression induces an egg cell-related transcriptome in sporophytic cells (Koszegi et al., 2011) and the occurrence of multiple egg cell marker-expressing cell clusters in ovules. Current experiments are based on a complete set of mutants of all members of the gene family as well as synergid-, egg cell-, central cell and antipodal cell- specific marker lines.
  • Another research interest is the functional characterisation of a novel family of transcription factors, EFFECTORS OF TRANSCRIPTION (ET). ET factors function as regulators of other transcription factors and participate in the control of cell differentiation during sporophyte development (Ivanov et al. 2008). Current experiments, partially done in co-operation with Dr. M. Kuhlmann, IPK, show, that ET factors represent novel epigenetic regulators of DNA methylation.


  • We are also interested in unravelling the regulatory processes during embryogenesis and seed maturation (Tiedemann et al., 2008Junker et al. 2010, Mönke et al., 2012). Specifically, we aim to understand the hierarchic relations underlying the regulatory network involving the transcription factors FUS3, ABI3, LEC1 and LEC2 during seed development in Arabidopsis.

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  • In collaboration with other groups, we study the transcriptome of pollen embryogenesis in barley, in order to understand the molecular reprogramming events during androgenesis whereby the haploid microspore develops into an adult embryo. These results will ultimately provide information necessary for the introduction of double haploid technology in crop plants. [Translate to Englisch:]
  • The BURP genes are a family of plant specific genes, encoding proteins with a characteristic, highly conserved domain. In co-operation with Dr. M. Kuhlmann, IPK, we demonstrated that these genes are essential for seed development (Son et al., 2009) as well as for the expression of desiccation tolerance (Harshavardhan et al., under revision).


The research group is funded by the IPK, [link]German Research Foundation (DfG), [link]German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. We extensively collaborate with several work groups within IPK; and with researchers at [link]University of Halle; [link]NIBB, Japan; [link]University of Zürich, Switzerland; [link]CSIRO, Australia; and [link]University of Padua and [link]CNR in Italy.