Individual Research Project 11. Transcriptomic and epigenomic effects of seed priming on seedling establishment during drought at the group of Prof. Dr. Ueli Grossniklaus at the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology (IPMB) of the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

This project focuses on investigating the transcriptomic and epigenomic effects of seed priming on A. thaliana seedling establishment during drought. We have collaborated with BioAtlantis (Ltd) in Ireland to screen different priming agents for their effectiveness in protecting seedlings from drought.

We are utilizing high-throughput protocols to assess genome-wide changes in the transcriptome and methylome over time using the most effective priming agents identified in our screening. This allows us to identify key factors underlying priming memory and understand how they are maintained during development.

Additionally, we will work with our partners such as DSV in Germany and the CSIC-CNB in Spain to functionally assess selected factors using Arabidopsis mutants. This enables us to validate our findings and further elucidate the molecular pathways involved in the priming response.

Our research is conducted in a stimulating network of peers, and we benefit from international experiences in training and research provided by the EpiSeedLink consortium. This allows us to experience the research environment in different countries and sectors, benefit from the diverse expertise of the EpiSeedLink supervisors, and develop a wide scientific network.

Overall, our ongoing project promises to contribute to our understanding of seed priming and plant stress responses and has the potential to identify novel breeding targets for improving crop resilience

Zurich University-Host Institution

With over 26,000 students and 690 professors, the University of Zurich (UZH) is by far the largest university in Switzerland, offering a broad range of courses. In the Shanghai Ranking 2021 for the best universities worldwide, UZH ranked on place 54, exemplifying that UZH is one of the top institutions for education and research.

Together with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ), the Zurich region constitutes a highly attractive area for students and researchers from all over the world. Consequently, the proportion of foreign students and professors is very high, especially in the area of Life Sciences and Agriculture, which ranks even better in the Shanghai Ranking (rank 25 in 2016) than UZH as a whole. With 10 professors and a highly international scientific staff of roughly 180 people, the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology (IPMB) is one of the larger institutes of UZH’s Faculty of Science. IPMB specialises mainly, but not exclusively, in the investigation of molecular aspects of plant physiology, plant development, plant-pathogen and plant-soil interactions, microbiology, limnology, and evolutionary ecology.

The Grossniklaus laboratory investigates the molecular basis of plant reproduction, with an emphasis on cell specification, signalling processes, and epigenetic gene regulation. In particular, the group is highly international and has played a leading role in the study of maternal effects through epigenetic mechanisms such as genomic imprinting and Polycomb-based gene repression. Moreover, the group is interested in the biomechanics of cellular morphogenesis, and investigates the ecological and evolutionary role of epigenetic variation.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact Prof. Dr. Ueli Grossniklaus;