Joined the Department in 2016
- Dipl. Biol, 1978, University of Gießen (Gießen, Germany), Studies in Biology
- Teaching Certificate, 1979, University of Gießen (Gießen, Germany), Biology and Chemistry
- Dr. rer. nat., 1980, University of Gießen (Gießen, Germany), Genetics
- Habilitation, 1988, Ludwig-Maximilian-University (Munich, Germany), Faculty of Biology
My main research interests are molecular processes in organismic development and their malfunction in cancerogenesis.
One major topic of my laboratory is the understanding of signal transduction and gene regulation in cancer, in particular melanoma. Malignant melanoma is one of the most dangerous tumors with an incidence rising faster than any type of cancer worldwide. We use the classical Xiphophorus model system and transgenic medaka that develop different types of pigment cell tumors. With the established tools of biochemistry and molecular genetics as well as high throughput and deep sequencing methods (RNA-seq, CHiP-seq, RAD-tags) we want to better understand the molecular mechanisms that make a normal pigment cell turn into a malignant cancer cells and provide on this basis novel approaches for better diagnoses and therapies.
A second major interest is in the molecular basis and evolution of sex determination. Sex can be determined by a plethora of mechanisms and the different mechanisms do not follow a phylogenetic pattern. Particularly in fish, sex determination is highly variable, sometimes even among closely related species. We want to understand the reasons why this variability exists and what molecular changes are involved. We use a comparative approach studying various fish species. This includes developmental biological studies on the processes that make the decision in the embryo or larvae if the undifferentiated bipotential gonad will develop either as testis or ovary laboratory model fish species. Besides we try to identify the unknown sex determination genes from fish that are representing major branches of the fish tree of life and are of interest because of special ecological, evolutionary or economic features.
Because the function of any gene is shaped by its evolutionary history and its genomic context we are interested in the evolution of genes involved in cancer, pigmentation, sex determination and reproductive development. The opportunities offered by the next generation sequencing technologies allow to obtain the full genome information now also for interesting species besides the mainstream laboratory models, which offers new insights into their evolution and biology.
We are members of several international consortia (some initiated and coordinated by us) for the de-novo sequencing, assembly and annotation of fish genomes, which include our melanoma model organism, the platyfish Xiphophorus maculatus, the Amazon molly, a unisexual clonal fish species, two marine flatfish, two cyprinid species, the coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae, the lungfish and several others. We analyze the genomes with a special attention to the evolution of genes and gene families, which are of our interest from the cancer projects and the evolution of sex determination mechanisms and sex chromosomes. Major focuses are gene and whole genome duplications as important drivers of evolutionary innovations and adaptations. We are also interested how several traits like secondary sex characters, the age of sexual maturation (puberty) or pigmentation patterns evolve and have an impact on speciation.
- Liu, R, Du, K, Ormanns, J, Adolfi, MC, Schartl, M. Melanocortin 4 receptor signaling and puberty onset regulation in Xiphophorus swordtails. Gen. Comp. Endocrinol. 2020;295 :113521. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2020.113521. PubMed PMID:32470471 .
- Powell, DL, García-Olazábal, M, Keegan, M, Reilly, P, Du, K, Díaz-Loyo, AP et al.. Natural hybridization reveals incompatible alleles that cause melanoma in swordtail fish. Science. 2020;368 (6492):731-736. doi: 10.1126/science.aba5216. PubMed PMID:32409469 .
- Du, K, Stöck, M, Kneitz, S, Klopp, C, Woltering, JM, Adolfi, MC et al.. The sterlet sturgeon genome sequence and the mechanisms of segmental rediploidization. Nat Ecol Evol. 2020;4 (6):841-852. doi: 10.1038/s41559-020-1166-x. PubMed PMID:32231327 PubMed Central PMC7269910.
- Biscotti, MA, Carducci, F, Barucca, M, Gerdol, M, Pallavicini, A, Schartl, M et al.. The transcriptome of the newt Cynops orientalis provides new insights into evolution and function of sexual gene networks in sarcopterygians. Sci Rep. 2020;10 (1):5445. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-62408-x. PubMed PMID:32214214 PubMed Central PMC7096497.
- Qu, M, Ding, S, Schartl, M, Adolfi, MC. Spatial and temporal expression pattern of sex-related genes in ovo-testis of the self-fertilizing mangrove killifish (Kryptolebias marmoratus). Gene. 2020;742 :144581. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2020.144581. PubMed PMID:32173540 .
- Takehana, Y, Zahm, M, Cabau, C, Klopp, C, Roques, C, Bouchez, O et al.. Genome Sequence of the Euryhaline Javafish Medaka, Oryzias javanicus: A Small Aquarium Fish Model for Studies on Adaptation to Salinity. G3 (Bethesda). 2020;10 (3):907-915. doi: 10.1534/g3.119.400725. PubMed PMID:31988161 PubMed Central PMC7056978.
- Feron, R, Zahm, M, Cabau, C, Klopp, C, Roques, C, Bouchez, O et al.. Characterization of a Y-specific duplication/insertion of the anti-Mullerian hormone type II receptor gene based on a chromosome-scale genome assembly of yellow perch, Perca flavescens. Mol Ecol Resour. 2020;20 (2):531-543. doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.13133. PubMed PMID:31903688 PubMed Central PMC7050324.
- Kottler, VA, Feron, R, Nanda, I, Klopp, C, Du, K, Kneitz, S et al.. Independent Origin of XY and ZW Sex Determination Mechanisms in Mosquitofish Sister Species. Genetics. 2020;214 (1):193-209. doi: 10.1534/genetics.119.302698. PubMed PMID:31704715 PubMed Central PMC6944411.
- Dechaud, C, Volff, JN, Schartl, M, Naville, M. Sex and the TEs: transposable elements in sexual development and function in animals. Mob DNA. 2019;10 :42. doi: 10.1186/s13100-019-0185-0. PubMed PMID:31700550 PubMed Central PMC6825717.
- Pan, Q, Feron, R, Yano, A, Guyomard, R, Jouanno, E, Vigouroux, E et al.. Identification of the master sex determining gene in Northern pike (Esox lucius) reveals restricted sex chromosome differentiation. PLoS Genet. 2019;15 (8):e1008013. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008013. PubMed PMID:31437150 PubMed Central PMC6726246.