Christian Fankhauser, Professor

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. In 2019 he was elected to the german academy of sciences Leopoldina.

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

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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.


Christian Fankhhauser © Unil

Representative publications

Google Scholar Profile

PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR 7 is important for early responses to elevated temperature in Arabidopsis seedlings.
Fiorucci A.S., Galvão V.C., Ince Y.Ç., Boccaccini A., Goyal A., Allenbach Petrolati L., Trevisan M., Fankhauser C., 2020/04. The New phytologist, 226 (1) pp. 50-58. Peer-reviewed.

PIF transcription factors link a neighbor threat cue to accelerated reproduction in Arabidopsis.
Galvāo V.C., Fiorucci A.S., Trevisan M., Franco-Zorilla J.M., Goyal A., Schmid-Siegert E., Solano R., Fankhauser C., 2019/09/05. Nature communications, 10 (1) p. 4005. Peer-reviewed.

Changes in resource partitioning between and within organs support growth adjustment to neighbor proximity in Brassicaceae seedlings.
de Wit M., George G.M., Ince Y.Ç., Dankwa-Egli B., Hersch M., Zeeman S.C., Fankhauser C., 2018/10/16. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115 (42) pp. E9953-E9961. Peer-reviewed.

A phosphorylation switch turns a positive regulator of phototropism into an inhibitor of the process.
Schumacher P., Demarsy E., Waridel P., Petrolati L.A., Trevisan M., Fankhauser C., 2018/06/19. Nature communications, 9 (1) p. 2403. Peer-reviewed.

Local auxin production underlies a spatially restricted neighbor-detection response in Arabidopsis.
Michaud O., Fiorucci A.S., Xenarios I., Fankhauser C., 2017/07/11. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114 (28) pp. 7444-7449. Peer-reviewed.

Shade Promotes Phototropism through Phytochrome B-Controlled Auxin Production.
Goyal A., Karayekov E., Galvão V.C., Ren H., Casal J.J., Fankhauser C., 2016/12/19. Current biology, 26 (24) pp. 3280-3287. Peer-reviewed.




Christian Fankhauser

Tel: +41 21 692 3941


Administrative assistant

Nathalie Clerc
Tel: +41 21 692 3920