Niko Geldner, principal investigator
Niko Geldner started studying biology at the University of Mainz in 1993. After his 2nd year degree (Vordiplom) he went to the University of Tuebingen to continue his studies. In 1995, he went for a year to the University of Bordeaux 2, where he finished with a masters in Cell Biology and Physiology (Maitrise de Biologie Cellulaire et Physiologie). Back in Tuebingen, he started to work in the lab of Gerd Juergens and did his diploma thesis (1998) and PhD thesis (1998-2003) in the same laboratory, working on the role of GNOM in Arabidopsis embryogenesis and the polar localisation of the PIN1 auxin efflux carrier. He eventually left Tuebingen in 2004 when he was awarded HFSP fellowship to do a Postdoc at the Salk Insitute in La Jolla, California, in the lab of Joanne Chory. There, he worked on the endosomal trafficking of the plant steroid receptor kinase BRI1. He left the Salk in summer 2007 and started as an Assistant Professor at the University of Lausanne in September 2007. He was recently awarded the young-investigator starting grant of the European Research Council (ERC).
Julien Alassimone, PhD student
I am a French Master in "functional Biology of plants" coming from Carcassonne. Because of my interest in molecular biology and in plant improvement,I had a professionalized course, carried out within the IUP engineering major in Plant biotechnology of the University Paul Sabatier in Toulouse. Determined to continue my project in the fundamental research, I chose to carry out the second Masters year at the University of Montpellier in the program "functional biology of plants". I developed knowledge in molecular biology, plant improvement, plant physiology and plant genomes analysis and I am very interested in plant development and to study trafficking and signaling mechanisms in response to biotic and abiotic stresses.
My first practical training carried out within the BIOGEMMA company, gave me an idea about industrial research. Mondonville's team works on Rapeseed, Sunflower and Corn culture improvement. The project addressed the mechanisms of resistance to fungal pathogens in the model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, in order to apply this knowledge to agronomical interesting plants. To have an idea of fundamental research, I chose to carry out my training in a public institute, in the "plant adaptation to metals" group, in the Plant molecular physiology and biochemistry institute of the INRA Montpellier (FRANCE) titled: characterization of the role of defensins in the tolerance of Arabidopsis halleri to Zinc. The project focussed on the comprehension of the mechanisms of tolerance to metals allowing species like A. halleri to tolerate and accumulate zinc and cadmium in their aerial tissues. The objective was to reveal the molecular bases of the metal tolerance and hyperaccumulation in plants.
Valerie Denervaud, technical assistant
Valérie Dénervaud Tendon obtained her professional diploma in 1995, in Nestlé Research Center. To continue her studies, she began an engineering school in Sion, in food technology and biotechnology and finished it in 1999. After working few months in GMO fields, she went to the University of Lausanne and started to work in the lab of Dieter Haas. The research was focused on the virulence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the role of the quorum sensing regulatory network. In 2003, she left Lausanne for Cork (Ireland) and the lab of Fergal O'Gara, working still on P. aeruginosa. Then, during three years (2003-2006), she studied history at University of Fribourg, leading to a job of journalist for one year. She chose to come back to science again in autumn 2007.
Sadaf Naseer, PhD student
Sadaf NASEER obtained her first master degree in Biology (2003) from the University of Arid Agriculture Rawalpindi, Pakistan. During her master, she worked at the National Agriculture Research Center (NARC) of Pakistan at Islamabad on a research project "Virus free in vitro plant production of potato (Solanum tuberosum) CV. Desiree and Cardinal". In July 2006, she obtained another master degree (Master1) in Agrobiosciences with specialization in Food safety from University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France. During her studies, she wrote a comprehensive report on Meat Preservation and Processed meat Products. She continued her studies on the same subject and obtained the master 2 degree in July 2007 from same university. She worked in the «Laboratoire de Gènie Chimique, Départements de Toxicologie et Sécurité alimentaire» with the team of Dr. Annie Leszkowicz at "Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Toulouse" (ENSAT), France on the molecular mechanism of nephrotoxic mycotoxins (Ochratoxin A and Citrinin) and a toxin of herbal tea (Aristolochic acid), comparing the DNA adduct formation and repair, in human kidney cell culture by P32 post-labeling analysis and evaluating the toxin contents in the urine samples from Balkan endemic nephropathy(BEN) and Non-BEN affected families by HPLC analysis. She also analysed the presence of mycotoxins in different breakfast cereals. She joined UNIL in April 2008 and since then; she is working as a Research assistant/ PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Niko GELDNER.
Daniele Roppolo, Postdoc
Daniele joined the lab in May 2008. He is interested in the mechanisms regulating the transport of nutrients in the roots, particularly in the role played by the endodermis in the control and modulation of such a transport. He is curious about the establishment and the maintenance of cell polarity, a curiosity that he already had during his previous life as molecular neurobiologist. He did his PhD on the mechanisms of regulation of the genes coding for pheromone receptors in the mouse, enjoying the life in the Ivan Rodriguez lab in Geneva. Before getting his Swiss visa, he graduated from the University of Pavia, where he prepared a diploma work on the genetic defects carried by patients affected by Xeroderma pigmentosum. He was born and spent his first 18 years in Sicily, 9 parallels southward from Lausanne.
Esther M.N. Dohmann, Postdoc
After reading "the double helix" by J.D. Watson Esther realised that actively doing science, especially biology has to be fun and therefore studied biology at the Bielefeld University. Since plants and genetics are in her opinion the most interesting subjects she did her diploma thesis (2003) in the department of Alfred Pühler where she studied gene expression during mycorrhiza and nodule symbioses in Medicago truncatula. For her PhD she went to Tübingen where she joined the lab of Claus Schwechheimer. Still interested in plants and genetics, she worked on the role of the Arabidopsis COP9 Signalosome during plant growth and development (2003-2008). After first working on why and when genes are transcribed and then on what the resulting proteins are doing, she now went to Lausanne to analyse where proteins are localised to and what proteins are doing in these compartments.
Yuree Lee, Postdoc
Yuree Lee who had worked as a computer programmer changed her carrier from computer science into biology because of curiosity and interests in basic science. She started to study biology in Korea University and did diploma thesis in 2002. Though her diploma thesis was about animal cancer cell growth, she was more interested in the plants and started to work in the lab of Youngsook Lee in POSTECH (Pohang University of Science and Technology). She did PhD thesis (2002-2008) in the same laboratory, studying the roles of phosphoinositides, especially PtdIns(4,5)P2 and PtdIns(3)P, in guard cell, pollen, and root hairs. During her thesis, she has been interested in cell polarity and endo-/exocytosis in plant cells, and moved to Lausanne to further study vesicle trafficking in February 2009.
Misako Yamazaki, Postdoc
Misako YAMAZAKI is very interested in the molecular mechanism of membrane traffic machinery and the physiological function of it. In the laboratory of Ikuko HARA-NISHIMURA, Kyoto University in Japan (2002-2009), she performed reverse genetic approach to several VPS (vacuolar protein sorting) genes. She examined the function of the retromer complex (named after retrograde transport coatmer and made up by VPS5/VPS17, VPS26, VPS29 and VPS35) in Arabidopsis developing seeds and showed the retromer complex is not only required for vacuolar protein sorting but also in plant growth, leaf senescence and embryogenesis (Plant Cell Physiol. 2008 Feb;49(2):142-56). These results imply that the membrane traffic by the retromer is important in a lot of developmental stages dependent on the cargos, the targets of the retromer. Not much is known about the mechanisms and physiological functions of this membrane trafficking system and the retromer cargo molecules are hardly understood. Using biochemical approaches, she investigated what are the cargo molecules and how the retromer recognizes the cargos. From these experiences, she considered that a key for understanding the relationship between molecular mechanisms and physiological functions of membrane trafficking machinery is cell polarity and she is now struggling with the endodermalpolarity in plants by biochemical approaches.
Joop Vermeer, postdoc
Joop joined the lab in February 2010. He is interested in the role of the Casparian Strip (CS) during primary root growth and lateral root emergence. He wants to know when the CS disappears, which factors are needed for this process and how the CS of the lateral root gets re-connected with the CS of the primary root. To solve this, he wants to use functional genomics and 4D live-cell imaging. Joop did his PhD research in the lab of Dorus Gadella where he got introduced in to the world of fluorescent biosensors. He implemented these in order to image phosphoinositides in living plants. Then he moved to the lab of Teun Munnik for a post-doc to study the role of phospholipids in plant growth and development. During this time he got interested in lateral root development and is now tackling the biology behind their emergence.
Alexandre Pfister, PhD student
Alexandre obtained his master degree in march 2010 in the University of Lausanne. During the first part of his master, he worked one semester in the lab of Uta Paszkowski on rice Arbuscular Mycorrhiza, focused on two genes maybe implicated in the detection of the fungus by the plant.
He then joined Niko Geldner’s lab in February 2009 to do his master project on Arabidopsis thaliana endodermis. The project focused on five proteins supposed to have a role in the formation/maintenance of Casparian strips and belonging to a new family of 4 transmembrane domain proteins (CASPs). He first investigated the putative interactions of these proteins with each others using the yeast split-ubiquitin system, and secondly the subcellular localization of some variants using site-directed mutagenesis, GFP fusions and confocal microscopy.
Because his interest in endodermis development, including Casparian strips formation increased during his master project, he began his PhD in the same lab in July 2010. The aim of his project is to characterize a receptor belonging to the Leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinases (LRR-RLKs) family. This kind of receptor is known to be implicated in plant development by binding an extracellular ligand and transducing signals inside the cell. The fact that this receptor localizes in the plasma membrane just below the Casparian strips makes it a good candidate possibly implicated in the formation of a correct endodermal barrier.
Lothar Kalmbach, PhD student
Lothar started studying biology in Mainz, Germany in 2004. After his 2nd year exams (Vordiplom) in 2006 he went to Umeå, Sweden and participated in a Master’s program in plant and forest biotechnology. Upon his return to Germany in 2007 he continued his studies at the University of Würzburg. As his first scientific project he performed a brief electrophysiological characterization of the ligand-dependent gating of a potassium channel in maize. For his Diploma thesis he returned to Sweden and joined the group of Markus Grebe at the Umeå Plant Science Centre in 2009. He acquired a background in experimental plant cell biology, and performed a comprehensive analysis on leaf trichome orientation in Arabidopsis thaliana in a planar polarity context. Also, he characterized antibodies against a protein putatively involved in planar polarity signaling in Arabidopsis. Having decided to stay in science and to continue research in plant cell biology, he joined the Geldner lab as a PhD student in November 2010. Now he is looking for key factors underlying endodermal membrane domain establishment and maintenance by a forward genetic approach.
Maria Carmen Rubio, visiting scientist
MariCarmen studied chemistry at the University of Zaragoza (Spain). After getting her diploma, she did her PhD thesis in the laboratory of Manuel Becana at the Estación Experimental Aula Dei (EEAD, CSIC), Zaragoza, studying the superoxide dismutases in nodules of legumes at the biochemical level, as well as the effect of water stress on antioxidants of alfalfa nodules. Ashe then went on to do a postdoc in the group of Herman Spaink at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands, where she continued studying the role of superoxide dismutases during root nodule development in the model legume Lotus japonicus. During her postdoc, she expanded her training with new skills and techniques on molecular and cell biology. She came back in May 2005 to the EEAD, where she got a permanent position in July 2008. She joined the lab as a visiting scientist in April 2011 to study the role of reactive oxygen species in Casparian strip formation.