Hans-Wilhelm Nützmann



Accepting PhD Students

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Personal profile

Research interests

My research programme aims to understand how genes are ordered along chromosomes and how gene order affects gene regulation.

Advances in genomics and transcriptomics have unveiled that gene order in eukaryotes influences expression patterns, recombination and mutation rates and gene retention over evolutionary time. In addition, diverse examples of clusters for co-localised and co-regulated functionally related genes have been identified in eukaryotes. Such gene clusters are predominately associated with fundamental developmental processes, immunity and metabolism. In plants, metabolic gene clusters are constituted by adjacent non-sequence related genes that encode the different catalytic steps required for the synthesis of bioactive specialised metabolites. Specialised metabolites, also called secondary metabolites or natural products, are low-molecular weight molecules that provide plants with the ability to interact with their environment. Furthermore, they provide taste and aroma to food, create color effects, have extensive applications in industry and agriculture and are the source of many important pharmaceuticals.

Plant metabolic gene clusters, and eukaryotic clusters in general, are characterised by the co-ordinated and tightly regulated expression of the encoded genes. The co-localisation of functionally-related genes enables the formation of different mechanisms of gene regulation in comparison to the control of dispersed genes. These mechanisms are at the heart of my research. I aim to characterise and understand the key mechanism in the regulation of plant metabolic gene clusters with the following central hypothesis: Plant metabolic gene clusters are delineated by a conserved code of epigenetic marks and reside in dynamic three-dimensional chromosomal domains. These chromatin features mediate the co-ordinate and highly restrictive pattern of cluster transcription, establish a basis for epigenetic cluster regulation and, therefore, shape the plant’s metabolite response during different developmental stages and changing ecological conditions.

My research will provide fundamental new insights into the genetic control of plant specialised metabolism, unveil novel avenues to rationally interfere with pathway regulation, contribute to a better understanding of the principles of gene-order dependent regulation of eukaryotic genes, ameliorate the design principles of synthetic multi-gene cassettes, and will thus, ultimately, underpin human interest in food security, higher-value natural products and synthetic biology.

Willing to supervise PhD

Accepting PhD students

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Multigene Family Medicine & Life Sciences
Aspergillus nidulans Medicine & Life Sciences
Secondary Metabolism Medicine & Life Sciences
Biological Products Medicine & Life Sciences
Fungi Medicine & Life Sciences
Histones Medicine & Life Sciences
Acetylation Medicine & Life Sciences
Plant Genome Medicine & Life Sciences

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Projects 2017 2022

Research Output 2009 2018

Embracing the next generation of plant scientists

Hetherington, F. M. & Nützmann, H. W. 1 Jan 2018 In : New Phytologist. 217, 2, p. 504-506 3 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations

Delineation of metabolic gene clusters in plant genomes by chromatin signatures

Yu, N., Nuetzmann, H-W., MacDonald, J. T., Moore, B., Field, B., Berriri, S., Trick, M., Rosser, S. J., Kumar, S. V., Freemont, P. S. & Osbourn, A. 18 Mar 2016 In : Nucleic Acids Research. 44, 5, p. 2255-65 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Plant Genome
Multigene Family
Biological Products
34 Citations

Plant metabolic clusters - from genetics to genomics

Nuetzmann, H-W., Huang, A. & Osbourn, A. 11 Jul 2016 In : New Phytologist. 211, 3, p. 771-89 19 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Biological Products
Plant Genome
Multigene Family
173 Citations

Minimum Information about a Biosynthetic Gene cluster

Medema, M. H. , Kottmann, R. , Yilmaz, P. , Cummings, M. , Biggins, J. B. , Blin, K. , de Bruijn, I. , Chooi, Y. H. , Claesen, J. , Coates, R. C. , Cruz-Morales, P. , Duddela, S. , Düsterhus, S. , Edwards, D. J. , Fewer, D. P. , Garg, N. , Geiger, C. , Gomez-Escribano, J. P. , Greule, A. , Hadjithomas, M. & 134 others Haines, A. S., Helfrich, E. J. N., Hillwig, M. L., Ishida, K., Jones, A. C., Jones, C. S., Jungmann, K., Kegler, C., Kim, H. U., Kötter, P., Krug, D., Masschelein, J., Melnik, A. V., Mantovani, S. M., Monroe, E. A., Moore, M., Moss, N., Nuetzmann, H-W., Pan, G., Pati, A., Petras, D., Reen, F. J., Rosconi, F., Rui, Z., Tian, Z., Tobias, N. J., Tsunematsu, Y., Wiemann, P., Wyckoff, E., Yan, X., Yim, G., Yu, F., Xie, Y., Aigle, B., Apel, A. K., Balibar, C. J., Balskus, E. P., Barona-Gómez, F., Bechthold, A., Bode, H. B., Borriss, R., Brady, S. F., Brakhage, A. A., Caffrey, P., Cheng, Y-Q., Clardy, J., Cox, R. J., De Mot, R., Donadio, S., Donia, M. S., van der Donk, W. A., Dorrestein, P. C., Doyle, S., Driessen, A. J. M., Ehling-Schulz, M., Entian, K-D., Fischbach, M. A., Gerwick, L., Gerwick, W. H., Gross, H., Gust, B., Hertweck, C., Höfte, M., Jensen, S. E., Ju, J., Katz, L., Kaysser, L., Klassen, J. L., Keller, N. P., Kormanec, J., Kuipers, O. P., Kuzuyama, T., Kyrpides, N. C., Kwon, H-J., Lautru, S., Lavigne, R., Lee, C. Y., Linquan, B., Liu, X., Liu, W., Luzhetskyy, A., Mahmud, T., Mast, Y., Méndez, C., Metsä-Ketelä, M., Micklefield, J., Mitchell, D. A., Moore, B. S., Moreira, L. M., Müller, R., Neilan, B. A., Nett, M., Nielsen, J., O'Gara, F., Oikawa, H., Osbourn, A., Osburne, M. S., Ostash, B., Payne, S. M., Pernodet, J-L., Petricek, M., Piel, J., Ploux, O., Raaijmakers, J. M., Salas, J. A., Schmitt, E. K., Scott, B., Seipke, R. F., Shen, B., Sherman, D. H., Sivonen, K., Smanski, M. J., Sosio, M., Stegmann, E., Süssmuth, R. D., Tahlan, K., Thomas, C. M., Tang, Y., Truman, A. W., Viaud, M., Walton, J. D., Walsh, C. T., Weber, T., van Wezel, G. P., Wilkinson, B., Willey, J. M., Wohlleben, W., Wright, G. D., Ziemert, N., Zhang, C., Zotchev, S. B., Breitling, R., Takano, E. & Glöckner, F. O. Sep 2015 In : Nature Chemical Biology. 11, 9, p. 625-31 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
11 Citations

Cytotoxic and antifungal activities of melleolide antibiotics follow dissimilar structure-activity relationships

Bohnert, M., Nuetzmann, H-W., Schroeckh, V., Horn, F., Dahse, H-M., Brakhage, A. A. & Hoffmeister, D. Sep 2014 In : Phytochemistry. 105, p. 101-8 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Aspergillus nidulans
structure-activity relationships
Structure-Activity Relationship
Biological Products