Welcome to Ryan Ard - new postdoc in the Marquardt lab – University of Copenhagen

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10 January 2017

Welcome to Ryan Ard - new postdoc in the Marquardt lab

Ryan Ard has joined the Marquardt lab this January 2017 as an EMBO Long-Term Postdoctoral Fellow. Ryan did his PhD in Robin Allshire’s laboratory at the University of Edinburgh, where he identified examples of gene regulation requiring environmentally controlled acts of non-coding transcription in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe.

In Sebastian Marquardt’s group at CPSC, Ryan hopes to expand on the work conducted during his PhD by elucidating the molecular mechanism and scale of gene regulation by non-coding transcription in the genome of a higher, sessile organism (Arabidopsis thaliana).

The knowledge generated is expected to deliver important insights into how non-coding DNA contributes to gene expression control and how these sequences underpin the response to environmental changes at the molecular level in higher organisms.

Project background

Globally, climate change poses a significant challenge to the survival of many organisms and their ecosystems. Sessile organisms, such as plants, are particularly susceptible to environmental fluctuations. How environmental change is sensed at the molecular level and transmitted as a response to trigger gene expression changes that increase survival and reproductive success is a fascinating open research question.


An increasing body of evidence indicates that large sections of genomes that do not code for proteins (non-coding DNA) aid environmental responses at the molecular level. In particular, recent studies have shown that non-coding regions frequently generate long non-coding RNA molecules and that such acts of non-coding transcription are sensitive to the environmental changes.

While attention has mostly been paid to potential functions for these RNA products, it is now recognized that the process of non-coding transcription itself can be a regulatory event.