Professor Daniel Zilbermann

Project Leader Genes in the Environment

Biography

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.