Research Interests

Synthesis and action of RNA silencing-associated small RNAs

Small non-coding RNA (sRNAs) molecules are key components in many biological processes, including development, stress-response and disease control against molecular parasites such as viruses and transposons. They mediate post-transcriptional gene silencing that involves mRNA cleavage/destabilization or translational inhibition as well as RNA-dependent DNA methylation and histone modifications that can lead to transcriptional gene silencing. We study the synthesis and action of sRNAs with particular emphasis on epigenetic modifications driven by sRNA molecules using a combination of biological systems including plants and viruses and the latest high throughput sequencing technologies.


Genome editing tools and strategies for functional genomics

Genome editing nucleases are currently revolutionizing both molecular biology and industrial biotechnology. The latest additions to these nucleases are the RNA-programmable CRISPR/Cas enzymes. CRISPR endonucleases induce targeted double-stranded DNA breaks, triggering cellular DNA repair pathways. Of these pathways, non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) results in random insertions and deletions at the target site, whereas HR allows homology-directed, precise editing by using DNA repair templates. Our mission is to develop novel CRISPR/Cas-based genome editing tools and strategies for functional genomics and industrial biotechnology, both in plants and algae by understanding and harnessing the underlying DNA repair pathways.



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