The characteristics of organisms result largely from the dynamic interplay between DNA or RNA and the regulatory apparatus. The control of gene expression is fundamental to implement the information in the genome and to determine the properties of different organisms. Gene expression is regulated at multiple levels, and cells need to integrate external and internal cues and coordinate different regulatory levels to properly exert biological functions. Various large-scale technologies are now used to monitor the control of all genes on a global scale. These are exciting times for biology, and genome-wide approaches will be crucial to fully understand the relationship between genotype and phenotype, and the regulatory complexity accompanying life and disease.

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We use the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe to study the dynamic changes and plasticity of gene expression programs as a function of cell proliferation, differentiation, and quiescence, and the effect of various genetic and environmental perturbations. We are also interested in genetic diversity, genome evolution, and the complex interactions between genotypes, phenotypes, and the environment. Fission yeast is similar to budding yeast with regard to ease of handling, powerful genetics, and a well defined genome; it is evolutionary distant, however, thus providing a powerful complementary model system that gives unique insights and helps to define universal regulatory principles. The relative simplicity of the yeast cell promises a deeply satisfying systems-level understanding of its inner workings within our life time.

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To pursue this multi-dimensional research with a holistic perspective, we apply different microarray platforms, next-generation sequencing, proteomic approaches, and massively parallel functional profiling of mutant strains. Integration of our global and molecular genetic approaches, supported with computational data mining and mathematical modelling of genome regulation, will provide a framework for a systems-level understanding of the multi-layered gene expression networks and of regulatory strategies orchestrating biological processes.