The Bucher Lab

Model Plant and Crop Epigenetics

Welcome to the Bucher Lab website.

Epigenetics describes fascinating biological processes that allow the transmission of "memory" from one cell to another. This "memory" can be of developmental origin (where does a cell come from) but can also include the perception of environmental stimuli. Epigenetic "memory" can for instance be transmitted via the expression state of genes ("on" or "off"). This means that a cell will not only pass its genes on to the next generation but it can also inform the next generation about the expression state of some of its genes. We want to better understand the epigenetic mechanisms involved in this "memory" transmission and then apply this knowledge in crop breeding.

Fundamental research

We are studying very fundamental epigenetic mechanisms that are involved in the control of gene expression in plants. We have developed tools that allow forward genetic mutant screens that allow us to discover novel proteins involved in this control. We are also very interested in transposable elements and how they may contribute to the adaptation to environmental stresses.

Applied research

We are developing tools in order to study epigenetic diversity in crop plants and to apply epigenetics in breeding and crop improvement. 

Very recently we produced a very high quality apple genome and epigenome.

We have now just started an ERC project to develop a new breeding technology that takes advantage of transposable elements.

Bioinformatics

Bioinformatics has become absolutely essential in biology. We are producing genomes and genome-wide data (transcriptomes, whole genome re-sequencing) and develop genome browsers to allow all researchers to access our published works. A nice example is our genome browser called "EpiExpress". It allows us to visualize genomic features (genes, transposable elements) in combination with different epigenetic marks (DNA methylation, siRNAs, H3K27me3...). This is crucial to get better understanding about a certain locus.

by Etienne Bucher