Three months ago, I started my PhD project in the evolutionary genetics group at University Neuchâtel. After a month in the “old” plant pathology group at ETH Zurich, where I learned the most important lab methods and got in touch with a lot of researchers on Zymoseptoria tritici, I started in the lab in Neuchâtel.
Although my research and personal interests are very broad, I mostly worked with fungi during my studies. During my bachelor at ETH Zurich I was introduced to forest pathology, and I was working for my bachelor thesis with the fungal endophytes in Fraxinus excelsior leaves that are already infected with the new fungal disease Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. With this work, I got a first insight into laboratory work. After I wrote my term paper on Clavicipitaceae, fungal grass endophytes that can act antagonistically against herbivores, I went back to H. fraxineus for my master thesis. I had the opportunity to work on the population structure of a newly found Mitovirus (a virus inside of the mitochondria of a fungi) in H. fraxineus. For this thesis, I could expand my experiences into the wet laboratory work, and I learned how to work with level 2 organisms in the newly built plant protection lab at WSL Birmensdorf. Next to the laboratory work, I had an extended insight into bioinformatics and phylogenetics.
After my Master, I shortly worked in the plant pathology group at ETH, where I helped developing a qPCR protocol for two agricultural filamentous plant pathogens. After that I worked in the mycorrhiza group at WSL Birmensdorf, mostly with Cenococcum geophilum and different truffle species.
In my PhD project, I would like to concentrate on the diversity, population dynamics and influence on the infection potential of transposable elements in Z. tritici. I’m looking forward to work in this dynamic and well connected laboratory, as well as in the very diverse institute of biology.