We study epigenetics and RNA-mediated gene regulation. Work in our lab focuses in understanding the molecular basis, biological role and widespread influence of paramutation in plants from an evolutionary developmental (Evo Devo) perspective.
We are interested in epigenetics and developmental biology. Our main focus is trying to understand the molecular basis, evolution and biological implications of paramutation. Paramutation is the most amazing and extreme example of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. Paramutation is an interaction between alleles (or homologous sequences) that leads to mitotically and meiotically heritable changes in gene expression of one of the alleles. Paramutation was discovered in maize in the 1950's and numerous examples of paramutation and paramutation-like phenomena have emerged over the decades in other plant and animal species including, Lycopersicum esculentum (tomato), Mus musculus (mouse) and Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly or vinegar fly). Very recently, we started to gain insight into the genetic and molecular mechanisms of paramutation. In plants, paramutation is mediated by components of the RNA-directed DNA methylation pathway, which has been extensively characterized in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Given our interest in Evolutionary Developmental Biology (Evo Devo) of paramutation, we started an exciting journey that lead us to study non-conventional (and non-model) organisms that are either at key evolutionary lineages or are important from an economic point of view. This way, in addition to our work in maize, we are characterizing epigenetic and RNA-directed gene regulation in Marchantia polymorpha (a liverwort) and Anastrepha ludens (the mexican fruit fly).
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