Have you ever wondered why some people have blue eyes and others green? Why some of us get flu every year and other almost never?

These are the questions that got me interested in biology around 2003. We currently know that the answer to these questions can be found in our DNA. Traits (e.g. flu susceptibility, hair color and length) are encoded on your personal DNA molecules, stored in every nucleus of every living cell.In our DNA all our traits are encoded by using only a four letter alphabet. A word in this code is called a gene, and humans have an estimated 50.000 genes. This alphabet is on demand transcribed into RNA, which in its turn is turned into proteins.

These proteins (and the products they produce) are causing traits we observe; unraveling the relation between genetic variation (having different genes) and the traits we observe is called 'Quantitative Genetics'.

Currently I finished my PhD and am working at the Humboldt University in Berlin on an obesity phenotype in Berlin Fat Mice. Previously for my PHD I'm researching methods to 'frame' the DNA, linking the code to the traits we see. Because I am a (computational) biologist I use a computer to answer questions involving plant phenotypes.

We look towards the DNA to increase plant yield, resistance to infections and other useful properties. For this I collaborated with Wageningen University where they have a biology department which grows Arabidopsis plants as a model for plant development.

The data coming from these plants is huge hard drives full of numbers, representing the activity of all genes. This data is then analyzed by GBIC our lab using Quantitative Trait Locus analysis (QTL). We can only do this in Groningen because the infrastructure needed to analyze these big amounts of data is available.

Last modified: 22 Oct 2020, 16:36 | Edit