Dr Daniel Zilberman

Project Leader
Cell and Developmental Biology

Daniel studies cytosine methylation as a mechanism for epigenetic inheritance.

He uses Arabidopsis alongside other evolutionary significant species to understand how the pattern of methylation is both inherited and altered over generations to influence developmental processes such as flowering.

Daniel is working with mathematical modellers to understand how methylation is controlled and how it can subtly manipulate gene expression.

Daniel is also interested in the mechanism of demethylation during genomic imprinting.

  • Cytosine methylation for epigenetic inheritance
  • Patterns of methylation and the influence on plant development
  • The mechanism demethylation during genomic imprinting 


Most of the information that passes from one generation of cells to the next is encoded in the DNA sequence. However, there is increasing appreciation that cells also receive inherited information through other mediums, known collectively as epigenetic. We study cytosine DNA methylation, a key epigenetic mechanism in plant and animal cells.

Cytosine methylation is able to carry epigenetic information because it is precisely copied when the DNA is replicated. Methylation regulates gene expression, and accurate reproduction of DNA methylation patterns during cell division is therefore essential for plant and animal development, efficient agriculture, and human health.

The enzymes that maintain DNA methylation have to work within chromatin, and particularly to contend with nucleosomes – tight complexes of DNA and histone proteins.

Daniel's group combines genetic, genomic and biochemical approaches to understand the maintenance and function of DNA methylation within chromatin using the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana as the primary model. They also study a variety of other species to understand the complex evolution of eukaryotic DNA methylation.


Tel: 01603 450533

Professor Daniel Zilberman receives Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council

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Recent Publications

Zemach A., McDaniel I. E., Silva P., Zilberman D. (2010)

Genome-wide evolutionary analysis of eukaryotic DNA methylation.

Science 328 p916-9

Publisher’s version: 10.1126/science.1186366

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Daniel received a B.S with Honours in Biology from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, in 1998.  He received his PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2004, working with Dr Steven Jacobsen.  Daniel then worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Chromatin Biology in the Fred Hutchingson Cancer Research Center, Seattle in 2007 with Dr Steven Henikoff.  From 2007-2017 Daniel worked in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, initially as a Assistant Professor and then as an Associate Professor. In 2017 Daniel started working as a Project Leader in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the John Innes Centre, Norwich UK.



For media enquiries, please contact the JIC communications team:

01603 450962, jic.communications@jic.ac.uk


Selected Publications

Jason T. Huff, Daniel Zilberman* and Scott W. Roy*. “Mechanism for DNA transposons to generate introns on genomic scales.” Nature 2016, 538: 533-536. *Corresponding authors.

Jason T. Huff and Daniel Zilberman. “Dnmt1-independent CG methylation contributes to nucleosome positioning in diverse eukaryotes.” Cell 2014, 156: 1286-1297. 

Assaf Zemach, M. Yvonne Kim, Ping-Hung Hsieh, Devin Coleman-Derr, Leor Eshed-Williams, Ka Thao, Stacey L. Harmer and Daniel Zilberman. “The Arabidopsis nucleosome remodeler DDM1 allows DNA methyltransferases to access H1-containing heterochromatin.” Cell 2013, 153: 193-205.

Christian A. Ibarra, Xiaoqi Feng, Vera K. Schoft, Tzung-Fu Hsieh, Rie Uzawa, Jessica A. Rodrigues, Assaf Zemach, Nina Chumak, Adriana Machlicova, Toshiro Nishimura, Denisse Rojas, Robert L. Fischer, Hisashi Tamaru and Daniel Zilberman. “Active DNA demethylation in plant companion cells reinforces transposon methylation in gametes.” Science 2012, 337: 1360-1364.

Assaf Zemach, Ivy E. McDaniel, Pedro Silva and Daniel Zilberman. “Genome-wide evolutionary analysis of eukaryotic DNA methylation.” Science 2010, 328: 916-919.

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