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Confocal microscopy-based dissection of the subcellular architecture in fly, worm and plant cells

Applicant Müller Fritz
Number 128665
Funding scheme R'EQUIP
Research institution Département de Biologie Faculté des Sciences Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Cellular Biology, Cytology
Start/End 01.02.2010 - 31.01.2011
Approved amount 230'000.00
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Keywords (5)

confocal microscopy; subcellular architecture; synapse organization; chromatin architecture; organelle movement

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
This grant allocated to the Dept. of Biology, Univ. of Fribourg, is based on a joint application from seven of its groups.Neural basis of chemosensory learning in the Drosophila larva (A. Thum, R. Stocker): attempts to dissect the chemosensory circuit of the fly larva, from sensory neurons to higher brain centers which form associations of odors with reinforcing stimuli, and to motor areas that trigger appropriate behaviors. In vivo imaging will bridge the gap between anatomical and behavioral approaches.Analysis of the neuronal network in the Drosophila larval visual system (S. Sprecher): intends to map the synaptic connectivity between larval photoreceptor neurons and their central targets. It will lay ground for behavioral studies addressing the functional role of photoreceptor subtypes and their downstream neuronal network. Visualizing complex neuronal structures and synaptic connectivity requires high-resolution confocal microscopy which also sets stage for calcium imaging of identified neurons. Developmental role of the chromatin remodelers LET-418 and CHD-3 in C. elegans (F. Müller, C. Wicky): will investigate the cellular and developmental functions of two C. elegans orthologs of the eukaryotic Mi-2 protein family, which is involved in chromatin remodeling.Analysis of cell fate in the C. elegans germ line (A. Puoti): seeks to uncover the precise localization of germ line-associated proteins and chromosomal structures in C. elegans, in order to understand how gene products orchestrate germ line development.Analysis of the intracellular stages of mycorrhizal symbiosis in plants (D. Reinhardt): focuses on the invasion of a microbial symbiont in epidermal and cortical root cells. The goal is to study in vivo the subcellular localization of proteins involved in mycorrhizal symbiosis, together with fungal structures and surrounding plant cells.Molecular and cytological analysis of disease resistance of the model plant Arabidopsis (F. Mauch): studies host-pathogen interactions at the cellular level using an Arabidopsis-P. brassicae pathosystem. It attempts to demonstrate in planta the movements and interactions of proteins at the subcellular level or the pathogen-triggered movement of organelles.Studies on the localization and function of AtGRXS13, a potential effector of Botrytis cinerea (J.P. Métraux): searches to understand how host plants are diverted from their normal defense reactions by virulent pathogens. Candidate target genes for virulence effectors of the pathogen have been identified. A careful localization of target proteins at high resolution and the study of their interactions are essential for further progress in the field.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
125577 The developmental role of LET-418/Mi-2 in C. elegans 01.05.2009 Project funding (Div. I-III)


The proposal for a R'Equip grant presented below is a joint application of the Department of Biology, submitted by Proff. Fritz Müller and Reinhard F. Stocker. Seven of its research groups depend entirely or at least in part on confocal microscopy. Their projects are presented in part 2. The necessity of this request is elaborated in part 3. Briefly, the Biology Department urgently needs a high-end confocal microscope for the following reasons: (1) a number of new confocal projects requiring advanced optical resolution (including the option for future live optical imaging studies), (2) arrival of a new group whose research is fully based on confocal microscopy, (3) creation of 9 full professor positions in the Dept. of Medicine, which will dramatically increase pressure on the existing confocal facility of the Faculty of Science (located in the Dept. of Medicine), and (4) structural reorganization of the fields "Development & Neurobiology" between the Biology Departments of the Universities of Bern and Fribourg, with an expected increase of confocal users in Fribourg. The existing confocal microscope facility is in heavy use, often booked for almost 24 hours a day.An accompanying letter by the Dean of the Faculty of Science assures the Faculty's committment for matching funds. Another letter by the President of the Biology Department explains how the new confocal microscope fits into the strategic planning of the Department and assures its commitment for the maintenance, service and future development of the system.Many studies based on confocal microscopy have been carried out in the Biology Department during the past few years. However, most of the projects proposed here necessitate specifications that are not met by the current equipment. High-resolution confocal microscopy with an excellent signal-to-noise ratio is a prerequisite for dissecting the subcellular localization and movement of organelles and proteins. These conditions refer to projects focusing on synapse organization in Drosophila (2.1.-2.2.), chromatin architecture in C. elegans (2.3.-2.4.) and pathogen-triggered movements of organelles and other cellular components in plant cells (2.5.-2.7.). Furthermore, a highly modular design of the requested confocal microscope will set the stage for future in vivo imaging projects.Life Sciences will emerge as a key focus of research in Fribourg over the next decade(s), a trend that is highlighted by the creation of new professor positions in the Department of Medicine. In order to pursue outstanding research in their areas of interest, the Departments of Biology and Medicine will crucially depend on advanced confocal microscopy. Establishing a confocal microscope facility in the Biology Department will allow us to realize new competitive research projects, and as such will be a precondition for applying for foreign grants. The breadth of scientific interests represented by the investigators contributing to this application demonstrates the impact of high-end confocal microscopy on our scientific activities. Even with the creation of an additional confocal microscope facility, the Faculty of Science in Fribourg will be inadequately equipped with this technology compared to other Swiss universities.