Germline developmental epigenetics & intragenomic conflict

Transposable elements, or transposons, are abundant genomic repeats that can move from one location in the genome to another. This can cause genome instability and disrupt genes. My lab studies how transposon biology impacts our genomes – in particular, the genome of germ cells and pluripotent stem cells. We are interested in uncovering new mechanisms by which genomes attempt to control transposons and how transposons escape them. We are also interested in dissecting how transposons themselves and the mechanisms originally involved in their regulation can play important roles in development and disease.

Research website

Positions Held

Since 2019: Group Leader, Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB), Mainz
2013 - 2019: Postdoctoral Researcher, Institut Curie, Paris


2006 – 2012: PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology, University of Campinas
2001 – 2005: BS in Biology, University of Campinas

Selected publications by Joan Barau:

Prakash SA and Barau J (2020) Chromatin Profiling in Mouse Embryonic Germ Cells by CUT&RUN. Pages 253–264 in: Epigenetic Reprogramming During Mouse Embryogenesis. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 2214 (eds. Ancelin K & Borensztein M), Springer US, New York, NY  Link

Barau J, Teissandier A, Zamudio N, Roy S, Nalesso V, Hérault Y, Guillou F and Bourc’his D (2016) The DNA methyltransferase DNMT3C protects male germ cells from transposon activityScience, 354:909–912 Link

Barau J, Grandis A, Carvalho VMA, Teixeira GS, Zaparoli GHA, do Rio MCS, Rincones J, Buckeridge MS and Pereira GAG (2015) Apoplastic and intracellular plant sugars regulate developmental transitions in witches’ broom disease of cacaoJ Exp Bot, 66:1325–1337 Link

Zamudio N, Barau J, Teissandier A, Walter M, Borsos M, Servant N and Bourc’his D (2015) DNA methylation restrains transposons from adopting a chromatin signature permissive for meiotic recombinationGenes Dev, 29:1256–1270 Link