Department of Chromosome Biology
The capacity to reproduce and transmit genetic information is one of the few key features that define life. Both natural selection and breeding can optimise genetic information. They enable plants to adapt to the environment and confer beneficial characteristics for agriculture. The Department of Chromosome Biology at the MPIPZ aims to understand how genetic information is transmitted and modified over generations.
The essence of heredity is meiosis, the special form of cell division that shuffles genetic information at each generation and drives the evolution of all eukaryotes – from animals to plants. The major focuses of the Department of Chromosome Biology are meiosis and meiotic recombination. However, we also explore other key sources of genomic variation such as mutations, genome rearrangements, holocentric centromeres and polyploidisation. We develop multiple-scale approaches – from molecules and cells to species and populations – and use cutting-edge technologies in microscopy, cell biology, genetics, and genomics to address questions such as: How is meiotic recombination regulated in terms of the number and localisation of genetic exchanges? How are chromosomes faithfully transmitted to gametes? How does meiosis evolve in response to changes in chromosome structure or whole genome duplication? Conversely, how do meiosis and genome reorganisation shape adaptation? Finally, we explore the possibility opened by a better understanding of meiosis and heredity to develop transformative innovations for plant breeding.