Florian Hahn - AG Weber

 Plant Genome engineering using the CRISPR/Cas9 system

Crop improvement requires the establishment of new powerful techniques that allow the direct manipulation of target genes in planta. In recent years, three different techniques have been developed which allow targeted gene modifications by side-specific nucleases, namely zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs), transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) and lately clustered regulatory interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-associated systems. These systems rely on the application of nucleases for introduction of double strand breaks (DSB) at specific sites, which are then either repaired by the error-prone non-homologous end joining repair pathway (NHEJ) or by homologous recombination (HR) (Chen and Gao, 2014).

Due to its simple design, the CRISPR/system has seen an enormous rise since its first applications three years ago with gene editing experiments in bacteria, eukaryotic cells (yeast), human cells and animals (Pennisi, 2013). Several plant genomes have been successfully modified including the genomes of the model plants Arabidopsis thaliana and Nicotiana benthamiana (Belhaj et al., 2013)

This PhD thesis aims at establishing the CRISPR/Cas9-system in our lab, exploring different promoters for Cas9 expression as well as different model plant systems, and use this technique for improving photosynthetic traits in plants. Therefore, plants will be generated that express the Cas9 protein. A minimal CRISPR/Cas9 system will be tested by implementing mutations into easily, visually detectable genomic markers. Finally, the system will be used for HR-mediated genome editing in different plant systems to understand basic mechanisms of C4 evolution.


Starting date: 01.03.2014 / PhD student

Thesis committee members: Andreas Weber, Peter Westhoff, Shizue Matsubara

Mini Academic CV:

  •  2010
    • Bachelor of Science (B. Sc.) Biochemistry, Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf
      Thesis: PMP22 - a peroxisomal membrane protein that might be involved in transport of small carbonic acids  (Department of Plant Biochemistry)
  • 2012
    • Master of Science (M. Sc.) Biochemistry, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
      Thesis: Structure Analysis of a peroxisomal membrane protein  (Department of Plant Biochemistry)
  • 2013/14
    • Researcher at Institute of Transplantation Diagnostics and Cell Therapeutics, UKD Düsseldorf
Responsible for the content: E-MailDr. Petra Fackendahl