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Christian Fankhauser, Professor

Christian Fankhauser Christian Fankhauser received his PhD from the University of Lausanne in 1994 after carrying out his thesis at Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC) in the laboratory of Dr. Viesturs Simanis. He performed postdoctoral studies with Dr. Marty Yanofsky at UCSD then with Dr. Joanne Chory at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego. He became a Swiss National Science Foundation Assistant Professor at the Department of Molecular Biology of the University of Geneva in 2000. He joined the Center for Integrative Genomics in January 2005, where he was appointed Associate Professor. In 2011 he was promoted to Professor.

Photoreceptors, phytochrome, light-regulated development, circadian clock, Arabidopsis thaliana


Research Summary

Both genetic and environmental factors influence growth and development of any living organism. Plant development is very plastic and is constantly modulated by environmental fluctuations. Being photoautotrophic plants are particularly sensitive to their light environment. Light affects every major transition of the life cycle of a plant. To optimize growth according to ambient light conditions plants evolved several classes of photoreceptors including the UV-A/blue light sensing cryptochromes and phototropins and the phytochromes maximally absorbing red/far-red light. Genetic and photobiological studies suggest that the coordinated action of all these light receptors allows plants to fine-tune their development. We use molecular genetics in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana to decipher the signaling events occurring upon photon capture.

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Christian Fankhhauser © Unil

Representative publications

M. Hersch, S. Lorrain, M. de Wit, M. Trevisan, K. Ljung, S. Bergmann, and C. Fankhauser: Light intensity modulates the regulatory network of the shade avoidance response in Arabidopsis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2014. 111 (17): 6515-6520.URL

T. Preuten, T. Hohm, S. Bergmann, C. Fankhauser: Defining the site of light perception and initiation of phototropism in Arabidopsis. Curr Biol, 2013. 23:1934-8. URL

E. Demarsy, I. Schepens, K. Okajima, M. Hersch, S. Bergmann, J. Christie, K. Shimazaki, S. Tokutomi, and C. Fankhauser: Phytochrome Kinase Substrate 4 is phosphorylated by the phototropin 1 photoreceptor. EMBO J, 2012. 31(16): 3457-67. URL

C. Kami, M. Hersch, M. Trevisan, T. Genoud, A. Hiltbrunner, S. Bergmann, and C. Fankhauser: Nuclear phytochrome a signaling promotes phototropism in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell, 2012. 24 (2): 566-76. URL

P. Hornitschek, S. Lorrain, V. Zoete, O. Michielin, and C. Fankhauser: Inhibition of the shade avoidance response by formation of non-DNA binding bHLH heterodimers. EMBO J, 2009. 28 (24): 3893-902. URL


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