Director of the department of chromosome biology
Max Planck Institute
Meiotic metaphase II in Arabidopsis thaliana
Raphael Mercier aims at understanding the different aspects the cell division at the heart of heredity, meiosis. Using genetic approaches, he and his group are deciphering the mechanisms of meiotic recombination, cell cycle regulation and chromosome segregation.
Meiosis is an essential stage in the life cycle of sexually-reproducing organisms. Indeed, meiosis is the specialized cell division that reduces the number of chromosomes from two sets in the parent to one set in gametes, while fertilization restores the original chromosome number. Meiosis is also the stage of development when genetic recombination occurs, thus being the heart of Mendelian heredity. Increasing our knowledge on meiotic mechanisms, in addition to its intrinsic interest, would have also important implications for agriculture and medicine.
In the last decade Arabidopsis emerged as one of the prominent models in the field of meiosis. Indeed, the meiotic field benefits greatly from a multi-model approach with several kingdoms represented, highlighting both conserved mechanisms and variation around the theme. Arabidopsis emerged as a very good model to study meiosis, notably because of the possibility of large scale genetic studies and the wide range of molecular and cytological tools. Raphaël Mercier and his team aim at deciphering meiotic mechanisms, including recombination, cell cycle and sister chromatid cohesion modifications, and their functional relationships. To achieve this goal, they are conducting various genetic screens and characterizing the key players that they identified.
Apomixis results in progeny that are genetic clones of the maternal parent and thus is of great interest due to its potential revolutionary application in crop improvement. By introducing apomixis into sexual plants, any desired genotype, no matter how complex, could be perpetuated through successive seed generations. However, despite the occurrence of apomixis in over 400 species of angiosperms, very few crop species are apomictic and attempts to introduce this trait by crossing have failed. Our projects aim, via a better understanding of sexual reproduction processes, to de novo engineer apomixes in sexual plants
• 2001 2001 Ph. D. University Paris-Sud, FranceGeorges Pelletier's lab
• 2001-2003 : Postdoctoral fellow, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, Gareth Jones’ and Chris Franklin’s lab
• elected EMBO Member. 2020: Honorary Professor University of Cologne
• Laureate of the "scientific challenge" price Les lauriers de l'INRA, 2016
• Laureate of the Simone et Cino del Duca Foundation, Institut de France, 2014
• Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC), 2011
Intervention in the French radio show La tête au carré Les mystères de la méiose
Jan 2017, France Inter
The synaptonemal complex imposes crossover interference and heterochiasmy in Arabidopsis
Mars 2021, Proc Natl Acad Sci.
Don’t Forget Your Sister: Directing Double-Strand Break Repair at Meiosis
Mai 2020, Dev Cell.
Patronus is the elusive plant securin, preventing chromosome separation by antagonizing separase
Août 2019, Proc Natl Acad Sci.
Mutations of the AtYAK1 Kinase Suppress TOR Deficiency in Arabidopsis
Juin 2019, Cell Rep.