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Max Planck Society
Country: Germany
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1,057 Projects, page 1 of 212
  • Funder: EC Project Code: 101149854
    Funder Contribution: 173,847 EUR

    Despite significant progress in chloroplast biotechnology the de novo synthesis of a chloroplast genome has remained elusive. The development of strategies to design, assemble and transform artificial chloroplast genomes would signify a step-change in the field of plant synthetic biology. Only recently, genome scale DNA synthesis and sequencing has become routine, providing an ideal foundation to revisit the challenge of chloroplast genome synthesis. I will join Ralph Bock, a world leader in chloroplast biotechnology, and combine the expertise of his laboratory with my background in synthetic biology to generate the first Nicotiana tabacum plant with an artificial chloroplast genome. I will base my strategy on creating and testing multiple different genome designs with varied degrees of structural and genetic code alterations in respect to the parental genome to identify viable designs. I will develop methods to assess those designs in parallel, permitting the rapid identification and fixing of problematic regions in the synthetic genome. I will proceed to assemble the verified chloroplast genomes in a hierarchical, parallelized manner from large pieces of synthetic DNA. Finally, I will characterize the phenotype of the resulting plants, focusing on understanding the changes in transcription, translation and metabolism. The methods developed in this work will provide insights into the design principles of organellar genomes, and provide a platform to reinvent and remodel the genetic code of chloroplasts. This work will thereby establish strategies to re-engineering complex cellular processes such as photosynthesis, or to design entirely new functions such as the genetic isolation of synthetic DNA in plants.

  • Funder: EC Project Code: 892006
    Overall Budget: 162,806 EURFunder Contribution: 162,806 EUR

    Migration is a key life-history stage for many avian species and underpins the distribution of biodiversity on Earth. The species-energy hypothesis states that energetics underlies spatial- and temporally-specific patterns; yet the energetic balance for free-flying migratory species is poorly understood due to the inherent difficulties in studying individuals across vast geographic scales. To date, it has not been possible to obtain a field-derived metric of energetics in passerines let alone relate it to the environmental energetic conditions experienced. Major advances at the MPI-AB in the miniaturisation of heart-rate loggers, and the launch of ICARUS tracking technology with high spatio-temporal resolution, will now enable unique insights into energetically costly flight behaviour over the full annual cycle. By filling a technological and a conceptual gap, the ER will be the first to develop a novel, integrated approach to quantify the true energetic costs in the natural environment across a continuum of flight strategies, and calibrate metabolic costs under controlled settings to transform the research field of energetics. Empirically-derived data, resulting from this action, will be used to test if the species-energy relationship is applicable to the vast majority of small songbirds which change their distribution in response to seasonal variation in conditions and resources. Furthermore, this will enable the development of a tool to refine flight performance models and determine the response of this biological system to climate change. It will permit explicit testing of the species-energy relationship under seasonally specific environmental conditions, with a unique approach of incorporating energetic demands into the system. Cumulatively, fulfilling the objectives of TesSSEH, will significantly contribute to biogeographic theory, develop our understanding of energetically efficient physiological traits and revolutionise avian energetic models.

  • Funder: EC Project Code: 101106704
    Funder Contribution: 173,847 EUR

    The development of a multicellular organism requires the precise control of gene expression in space and time so that cells adopt their correct identity. However, genetic mutations can alter this complex process. Recently, transcriptional adaptation (TA) has been uncovered as one of the mechanisms underlying genetic compensation in zebrafish, mouse cells in culture, and Caenorhabditis elegans. TA refers to the phenomenon by which mutated genes (often with mRNA-destabilizing mutations) trigger the transcriptional modulation of related genes, called adapting genes. However, little is known about the spatial and temporal characteristics of adapting gene regulation and particularly during the zygotic genome activation. This project aims to decipher when and where TA occurs during early zebrafish development. Using genome engineering followed by live imaging, high-resolution microscopy and quantitative analysis, I will test the hypothesis that TA is regulated in a temporal manner during zygotic genome activation and that there is a specific mode of transcription during the modulation of the adapting genes (i.e., linear/discontinuous). Furthermore, I will investigate the subcellular localization of mutant mRNA degradation as well as the heterogeneity of the TA response between embryonic cells. Finally, I will implement the live imaging of translation in zebrafish embryo to decipher whether the dynamics of translation is involved during the TA/genetic compensation process. Until now, TA has been mostly investigated on pooled populations of cells. Therefore, we lack the understanding of this phenomenon at the single cell level. This project aims to fill this gap and obtain a better understanding of the spatio-temporal characteristics of genetic compensation which aid in the robustness of vertebrate development.

  • Funder: EC Project Code: 101076498
    Overall Budget: 1,500,000 EURFunder Contribution: 1,500,000 EUR

    Protein-RNA interactions play a key role in cell biology and there are limited tools for specific modulation. In this project we will look for molecules that act as glues by stabilizing the interaction between an RNA-binding protein and a specific RNA sequence which we call PRIGLUEs. The aims are to explore key concepts of how to develop screening methods to identify such PRIGLUEs and to determine what type of chemical matter is suitable for this approach. These novel molecular glues will be evaluated for their RNA selectivity and the mode of interaction stabilization. The methods we will develop to identify PRIGLUEs can be applied to any protein-RNA interaction, and we will use them to modulate the process of mRNA splicing to prove the concept. The glues will be applied to stabilize mutant splicing factor – RNA pairs to recover lost affinity and correct disease-causing splicing outcomes. PRIGLUEs will be applicable as novel tools for RNA biology studies but can eventually also lead to therapeutics with an unexplored mode of action.

  • Funder: EC Project Code: 705846
    Overall Budget: 239,861 EURFunder Contribution: 239,861 EUR

    The goal of this research is to identify and characterize genetic, behavioural and biochemical mechanisms underlying reciprocal local adaptation between partners in a complex mutualism. It will focus on a unique and outstanding model system found in the New World tropics: the “devil’s gardens” created by the ant, Myrmelachista schumanni, whose workers systematically attack and kill seedlings of foreign plants that germinate too close to their host plants. This cultivation behaviour results in low diversity, orchard-like stands of their host plants in the middle of some of the most diverse rainforests on earth. This project will bring together researchers from Harvard University and the Max Planck Institute to address three main questions through a combination of newly developed genome sequencing techniques, large-scale field-ecology behavioural experiments and state-of-the-art chemical analyses: (1) Do Myrmelachista schumanni and its host plants reciprocally influence each other’s population sizes, level of gene flow and genetic structure? (2) How specialized are interactions between Myrmelachista schumanni and the several species of plants that it cultivates? (3) What are some of the proximate mechanisms underlying host specificity, and in particular, can ants recognize different plant species and if so, how? In carrying out this research, postdoctoral fellow Pierre-Jean Malé will expand his expertise by gaining training in phylogenomics and chemical ecology. The project, referred to here as "RELOAD" (forREciprocal LOcal ADaptations), will also enable him to broaden the ecological and evolutionary scale of his research, and enhance his long-term goal of obtaining a faculty position at a European university and/or research institution.


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