Mechanisms underlying gamete interactions in brown algae

Advisor: Susana Coelho

PhD Program: International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) 'From Molecules to Organisms'
Location: Max Planck Institute for Biology 

Project description
Fusion between gametes is a key event in the fertilization process. Despite its importance for reproduction, the molecular mechanisms that regulate this singular event have remained elusive for many decades. The only fertilization-regulating fusogen discovered to date in any sexually reproducing species is HAP2/GCS1, which is involved in gamete fusion in Arabidopsis thaliana, Plasmodium berghei, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Dictyostelium discoideum, and Thermus thermophila and is present in many invertebrates, plants, and protists.Surprisingly, no HAP2/GCS1 homolog has been found in brown algae, suggesting that gamete fusion may require newly evolved networks to regulate gamete fusion in these organisms. This project with involve investigating the precise mechanisms underlying brown algal male and female gametes interaction and fusion. As a starting point, we have recently isolated an Ectocarpus mutant showing defects in gamete interaction and fusion, and identified the affected gene, a transmembrane glycoprotein encoded by a gene located on the sex-chromosomes. The aim of the PhD project is to unravel the role of this protein in Ectocarpus in order to shed light into the mechanisms mediating sperm-egg fusion. The student will use computational, biochemical, cell biology/physiology and genetic approaches to characterize already available mutants. Results from this project are expected to provide major insights into the regulation of such processes in diverse cellular contexts within the Eukaryotes.

More information about the research of Susana Coelho and a selection of recent publications can be found on herfaculty page.

To apply

Application deadline: 8 February 2023

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