New model systems for epigenetics research


We have a longstanding interest in the conceptual development of epigenetics through research with unique, non-standard model systems. For example, we have made groundbreaking discoveries on epigenetic differences between honeybee castes and on the evolutionary trajectories of DNA methylation in insects. More recently, we have focused our research activities on marbled crayfish. These evolutionary young and parthenogenetically reproducing (clonal) freshwater crayfish represent an intriguing model system to investigate clonal genome evolution and epigenetic variation. We have established a laboratory culture system for marbled crayfish, which suports about 100 breeding females. Current projects focus on a detailed analysis of the genome, the identification of ecological epigenetic variants and the establishment of genetically modified animals. We are very excited about the prospects of this highly original project, which also offers unique opportunities for cancer research, as clonal evolution and epigenetic adaptation represent key features of the cancer genome. For example, we are applyind our know-how on marbled crayfish genome evolution to model the timelines of tumor genome evolution from the cell-of-origin.


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