Evolutionary genomics: consequences of biodiverse reproductive systems

Göttingen’s new Research Training Group (RTG), funded by the German Resear
Göttingen’s new Research Training Group (RTG), funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) - ’Evolutionary Genomics: Consequences of Biodiverse Reproductive Systems (EvoReSt)’ - benefits from an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the evolution of genomes in organisms which use different forms of reproduction from the entire ’Tree of Life’. Photo: Elvira Hörandl, Ines Friedrich & Jan de Vries

DFG funds new Research Training Group in Biology at the University of Göttingen

 

A new Research Training Group (RTG) in Biology at the University of Göttingen has been funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).  The RTG, entitled "Evolutionary Genomics: Consequences of Biodiverse Reproductive Systems (EvoReSt)", benefits from an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the evolution of genomes in organisms which use different forms of reproduction from the entire "Tree of Life". The DFG is providing funding of around 6.6 million euros over the next five years to establish this RTG.

The researchers will investigate the evolution of the nuclear genome - meaning the complete set of DNA within the nucleus of an organism’s cell - by analysing asexual and sexual reproduction in animals, plants and fungi. In addition, they will study the interaction between the nuclear genome and the genomes of specialised structures within cells known as organelles. Their studies will include horizontal gene transfer by means of viruses, which remains an under-researched topic. The continuing development of methods and models for modern analysis of the genome is also an important focus of the RTG. "The complete sequencing and analysis of genomes is now also possible for organisms that do not belong to the classic model systems," explains RTG Spokesperson Professor Elvira Hörandl from the Albrecht von Haller Institute for Plant Sciences. "This approach enables us to empirically test evolutionary hypotheses on changing and evolving genomes that could previously only be predicted theoretically. This allows us to better understand the dominance of sexual reproduction in nature, a key topic in evolutionary biology."

The RTG comprises a team of twelve researchers from the Göttingen Campus - the Faculty of Biology and Psychology, the University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences - providing a diverse range of expertise which will facilitate extensive study on this topic. The aim is to establish an international network on evolutionary genomics which will offer PhD researchers a modern, wide-ranging education in biology, enabling the RTG to promote the international exchange of students and researchers through workshops, seminars, conferences and short research visits with collaborating research groups. The research results will be published in peer-reviewed journals which have open access, as well as at international conferences.