Gene Regulation & Evolution

Evolution is driven by natural selection acting on phenotypic variation. The phenotype of an organism is in turn determined by underlying differences in the DNA sequence and how its genes are epigenetically regulated. We know that gene regulatory systems vary greatly across phyla (e.g. mammals, zebrafish, insects, and nematodes) and that variation in gene regulation can influence or even drive evolution. We work to understand how gene regulation evolves by studying how genetic and epigenetic variation gives rise to phenotypic variation over ecological and evolutionary time scales. This includes studying ancient human genomes, human cell cultures, C. elegans and new model systems such as social insects (ants).

Keywords: regulatory element, transcription factor, non-coding RNA, transposon, DNA methylation, histone modification, evolutionary conservation, human evolution, adaptation

Key techniques used: Next-generation sequencing (DNA and RNA-seq, ATAC-seq), ancient DNA analysis, RNA interference, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), bioinformatics, proteomics, genome editing (CRISPR-CAS9)

IPP Groups in Gene Regulation & Evolution:

Claudia Keller-Valsecchi

Gene dosage and developmental plasticity

Eva Wolf

Circadian clocks as gene regulatory systems

Hans Zischler

Primate piRNA/PIWI: functional aspects and adaptive phenotypes

Helen May-Simera

Primary cilia and microRNA

Joachim Burger

The role of regulatory elements in the adaptation of modern humans to an agriculturalist diet

Julian König

Genomic views of protein-RNA interactions and splicing regulation

Katja Luck


Marion Silies

Gene regulatory mechanisms underlying neuronal function

Martin Kaltenpoth

Evolutionary ecology and insect symbiosis

Peter Baumann

Telomere biology and chromosomal inheritance

Petra Beli

Decoding DNA damage signaling using quantitative mass spectrometry

Romain Libbrecht

Evolution and regulation of division of labor in insect societies

Simon Rumpel

Mechanisms of memory in neocortical circuits

Susanne Foitzik

(Epi-)Genetics of social evolution

Thomas Hankeln

Globins in the nucleus