MGSE PIs demonstrate significant impact of transcriptional interference on gene expression

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© WWU/Armin Pande

Proximal promoter regions in eukaryotes are heavily transcribed yielding different types of small RNAs. Their actual function has not been completely understood and it could not be ruled out that many of them are mere by-products of gene expression. MGSE PIs Prof. Dr. Wojciech Makalowski and Prof. Dr. Jürgen Brosius now investigated capped and polyadenylated small RNA transcripts within proximal promoter regions of human RefSeq genes and demonstrated that they regulate downstream gene expression via transcriptional interference. The small transcripts act via the occlusion of otherwise productive transcription factor/DNA interactions. The results have been published in Nucleic Acids Research: Pande A et al. (2018) Transcriptional interference by small transcripts in proximal promoter regions. Nucleic Acids Research 46: 1069-1088. Press release of the WWU

MGSE PI Erich Bornberg-Bauer receives prestigious HFSP Research Grant

2018-04-09 Hfsp Grant Bornberg-bauer
© Portrait: WWU/Peter Grewer; Termites: CSIRO, licensed under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Prof. Dr. Erich Bornberg-Bauer has been awarded with a prestigious Program Grant by the International Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Organization. The HFSP’s collaborative Research Grants are given for a broad range of projects under the umbrella theme “Complex mechanisms of living organisms”. The program funds only cutting-edge, risky projects and provides 3 years of support for international teams involving at least two countries. The selection process is highly competitive: Out of 770 proposals from 50 different countries only 31 have been selected after a multi-level selection process. Prof. Bornberg-Bauer is part of a team that will investigate the role of diet in long-lived termite reproductives. Each team member receives on average 110,000 – 125,000 USD per year. It is the third HFSP grant for Prof. Bornberg-Bauer who was selected by the HFSP Organization already in 2006 and 2013. Press release by the WWU

7th MGSE Symposium was held

2018-03-21 Mgse Symposium 2018

The 7th MGSE Symposium was held on 21 – 22 March 2018 at the Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity at the University of Münster. Around 60 participants attended the two-day event which again offered the graduate students the opportunity to present their research in an oral presentation or a poster. For the first time, also PhD students from the Research Training Group EvoPAD – who are associated to the MGSE – were invited to share their first results, to network with evolutionary biologists in and around Münster, and to gain presenting experience. The programme was completed by talks of four MGSE Principal Investigators and three excellent keynote speakers: On the first day, Michael Lynch – member of the National Academy of Sciences and famous for his work supporting neutral theories of evolution – focussed on evolution at the molecular level. On the second day, Leo Beukeboom and Paula Stockley gave insights into the evolution of sex determination systems and post-copulatory sexual selection.
We would like to thank all presenters and guests who helped making the MGSE symposium a great event again, showing off the diverse research within the graduate school. Programme and pictures...

"It started with some reading and talk..."

© Portrait: R. Bayersdorf; Publication: Bayersdorf et al. 2018

MGSE PI Francesco Catania recently published an article on autoimmunity and the origin of the adaptive immune system together with Robert Bayersdorf, a former MSc student of the advanced module "The Growth of the Evolutionary Thought". Robert shares now with us how this cooperation came about and draws a conclusion for student education. You can find his report here...

MGSE Speaker Jürgen Gadau joins RTG EvoPAD

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© WWU/EvoPAD; Nasonia: AG Gadau

Good news from the DFG: The Grants Committee accepted MGSE Speaker Prof. Dr. Jürgen Gadau as additional Principal Investigator of the RTG EvoPAD. The acceptance comes with funding for a PhD student and equipment. The decision of the Grants Committee is based on very positive peer reviews in which Prof. Gadau is appreciated as a leading figure in the field of sociogenomics, with an excellent track record and a high profile research portfolio. The project of Prof. Gadau will try to identify and understand the gene regulatory networks that keep the interaction between nuclear and mitochondrial encoded genes functioning. Together with Prof. Gadau, 13 Principal Investigators are now involved in the doctoral training within EvoPAD.

ETT-Fellow Chris Smith publishes study supported by the MGSE

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ETT-Fellow Prof. Dr. Chris Smith has now published a study which was supported by the Evolution Think Tank of the MGSE. In their work, Prof. Smith and his co-authors identify a highly conserved expression pattern in an insect-only gene family, the Osiris genes, that is essential for development, but also plays a significant role in phenotypic plasticity and in immunity/ toxicity responses. Chris Smith has been a Fellow of the Evolution Think Tank from May to June 2017. The publication can be found here: Smith CR, Morandin C, Noureddine M & Pant S (2018) Conserved roles of osiris genes in insect development, polymorphism and protection. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 10.1111/jeb.13238 [doi]

PhD students launch MGSE magazine "The Eyebrow"

Eyebrow First Issue

The MGSE PhD students proudly present the very first issue of The Eyebrow – a magazine for and by PhD students of the MGSE. “It is a magazine written, edited, formatted, and ultimately yielded by PhD students of the Münster Graduate School of Evolution. We do not aim to inform, yet we will. We aim not to elucidate, but we will. We do, however, aim to entertain, by letting thoughts run freely,” describes Editor-in-Chief April Snøfrid Kleppe the vision of the magazine in the issue’s editorial. The magazine features reportages from different MGSE groups, news of future and passed events, essays as well as cartoons and riddles, providing beautiful distraction for long days in the lab. The Eyebrow is currently the only student paper at the WWU and is planned to be published quarterly. The fact that the first issue turned out as well as it is shows the potential of the upcoming issues. To convince yourself, you can pick up your copy of The Eyebrow in the MGSE office building in Hüfferstr. 1a. A PDF version of The Eyebrow in colour can be downloaded from the website of the magazine: https://eyebrowevolution.wordpress.com/

MGSE celebrates first graduate in 2018

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Congratulations to Kristina Wensing who was awarded with her doctoral degree on 9 February 2018. Kristina conducted her PhD studies at the Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity in the group of Dr. Claudia Fricke. In her thesis she investigated "Sex-specific contributions of sexual selection and sexual conflict to male-female coevolution in Drosophila melanogaster".
We wish Kristina all the best for her future career!

Insights into molecular basis of termite eusociality

© WWU/Peter Leßmann

Termites evolved eusociality - the reproductive division of labour with overlapping generations and cooperative brood care - independently from and long before social Hymenoptera. A team of researchers led by MGSE PI Prof. Dr. Erich Bornberg-Bauer could now show evolutionary signatures of termite eusociality by comparing the genomes and transcriptomes of three termites and the German cockroach against the background of 16 other eusocial and non-eusocial insects. Their result provide further evidence that major changes in gene regulation and the evolution of sophisticated chemical communication are fundamental to the transition to eusociality in insects. Although this parallels molecular mechanisms of eusocial evolution in Hymenoptera, the specific solutions are remarkably different, thus revealing a striking case of convergent evolution. Original Publication: Harrison MC et al. (2018) Hemimetabolous genomes reveal molecular basis of termite eusociality. Nature Ecology and Evolution. 10.1038/s41559-017-0459-1 [doi]. The press release by the WWU can be found here.

SWR2 broadcast on parasites with MGSE PI Joachim Kurtz

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© IEB - Animal Evolutionary Ecology Group

MGSE PI Prof. Dr. Joachim Kurtz and Dr. Jörn Scharsack from the Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity contributed to a broadcast on the role of parasites as „global players" in ecosystems on SWR2. The podcast and further information can be found here.