R.MercierDirector, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Germany
Wednesday, January 15, 8:45 AM / Town & Country Ballroom

Talk Title:  "Tinkering With Meiosis: To Mix, or Not to Mix"

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The entire scientific career of Raphael Mercier has been devoted to studying meiosis and its underlying genetic control using the model Arabidopsis thaliana with the goal to decipher meiotic mechanisms not only in plants, but more broadly in eukaryotes. During his PhD in Versailles (1998-2001, INRA/University of Paris-Saclay) he functionally characterized a master regulator of meiosis. He then joined the group of Chris Franklin and Gareth Jones at the University of Birmingham, a world leader in cytology of meiosis. In 2003, he then got a researcher position at INRA Versailles where he established specific genetic screens. He progressively increased the size (ERC consolidator grant in 2011) and international recognition of his team (Schlumberger foundation prize in 2014, Del duca Fudatio prize in 2015, INRA award in 2016). Raphael Mercier identified and characterized key meiotic genes by integrating a mixture of classical genetic approaches such as forward screens, reverse genetic approaches based on protein sequence analysis, and expression profile and inventive suppressor screens. Using such approaches he deciphered the meiotic mechanisms in an integrated manner, looking in parallel to the diverse biological processes in action at meiosis, such as recombination, cell cycle and chromosome distribution. His team notably identified three pathways that limit meiotic crossovers, and made key contributions towards the engineering of clonal reproduction through seeds. In 2019, he joined the Max-Planck Institute for plant Breeding research (Cologne) as a Max Planck Director to establish a department of chromosome biology.