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iFZ Junior Researchers

iFZ Masters 2022


Foto Melissa Dillenberger

Julian Barth at the workbench with the Tecan Infinite M multimode plate reader (Photo: Melissa Dillenberger)

Malaria is one of the most threatening infectious diseases in the world. The cause of the disease is infection with single-cell parasites of the genus Plasmodium. Standard therapy has been losing effectiveness for years due to increasing drug resistance of the parasites. Currently, the heat shock protein family (HSP70 chaperones) of plasmodia is in the spotlight of drug discovery.

In this context, Julian Barth at the Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has been working on the "Establishment of plate reader assays for activity and interaction determination of human and plasmodial HSP70 chaperones". As part of his thesis, he successfully introduced a new spectrophotometric measurement methodology in 96-well plate format. Such methods are the basis for systematic testing procedures to screen potential drugs for activity inhibitory properties with respect to heat shock proteins.

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Foto Kevin Rockenbach

Kevin Rockenbach at the workstation working with the programming languages R and Python (Photo: Kevin Rockenbach)

Kevin Rockenbach's thesis "Tissue-Specific Prediction of mRNA Abundance from Genomic Sequence in Brassica napus L. using Convolutional Neural Networks" in plant breeding focused on tissue-specific gene regulation in canola. While the genetic code of DNA sequences encoding proteins has long been decoded, we know comparatively little about the information contained in "non-coding" regulatory DNA sequences. To explore the information content of regulatory sequences that are in close proximity to the gene of interest, he used artificial intelligence to build a prediction model for tissue-specific gene readout. According to the model, more than 40% of tissue-specific gene regulation in oilseed rape is encoded in close proximity to the gene of interest.

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Foto: Fay Eckes

Franziska Tscharn in the laboratory analyzing corn samples (Photo: Fay Eckes)

In her thesis in plant nutrition, Franziska Tscharn investigated how it is possible to prevent the death of corn kernels during their development. One way to achieve this could be an application of the plant hormone auxin. Franziska Tscharn was able to show that auxin increases the activity of crucial enzymes for grain development and that more of these enzymes are also present in the grains. In view of the rising world population and the far-reaching consequences of climate change, it is becoming increasingly important that our crops can achieve the highest possible yields.

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