Bucher, Gregor, Prof. Dr.

Professor of Evolutionary Developmental Genetics

  • Heisenberg Professor of Evolutionary Developmental Genetics (since October 2013)
  • Dr. rer.nat.: Ludwig Maximilian University Munich (2002)
  • Free Lance Scientific Journalist (2002-2004)
  • Group Leader, Department of Developmental Biology, Georg August University Göttingen (since April 2004)
  • Junior Professor of Developmental Genetics, Department of Developmental Biology, Georg August University Göttingen (since May 2006)
  • Spokesperson DFG research unit FOR1234 iBeetle (since April 2010)

Major Research Interests

Genetics and Evolution of Insect Head and Brain

We work on the developmental genetics of the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum. Our goal is to identify genes that are responsible for head development, to reveal the gene regulatory network and understand the head morphogenesis. Both epidermis and brain stem cells (the so called neuroblasts) arise from the same tissue and use - at least in part - the same patterning cues. Therefore, brain and epidermis are two outcomes of the same early patterning processes that should be studied together. Finally, we aim to understand how the insect head evolved thereby contributing to the ongoing discussion on the infamous "arthropod head problem".

Genetics of Head Development

We seek to understand the formation of the head from early regionalization to morphogenesis. To this end we identify the involved genes by forward and reverse genetics and study their function using RNAi, RNA-seq, transgenic and other tools. Further, we follow head development by in vivo imaging.

Neural Development

We want to identify the early signals that give neural stem cells (neuroblasts) of the brain different identities. We focus on a subset of neuroblasts that are located in a region with similarity to the anterior portion of the vertebrate forebrain and that contribute to the central complex.

Molecular Zoology and Insect Functional Genomics

Using molecular methods we strive at contributing to ongoing zoological discussions. For instance, gene expression patterns have provided novel insights into the infamous "arthropod head problem". Comparing the gene regulatory networks of Tribolium with those of Drosophila and other arthropods shed light on the evolution of animal development. In addition, we are expanding the technical possibilities of our model system. We have established heat-shock mediated misexpression and the UAS/Gal4 misexpression system and we are expanding the set of in vivo imaging and Gal4 driver lines.

Large scale RNAi screen

The large scale RNAi screen iBeetle, which we perform together with others will make the red flour beetle the second arthropod model system that allows hypothesis independent gene identification. This opens novel zoological topics for genetic studies and allows using Tribolium as model for novel pest control strategies.

Homepage Department/Research Group


Selected Recent Publications

  • Kitzmann P, Schwirz J, Schmitt-Engel C, Bucher G (2013) RNAi phenotypes are influenced by the genetic background of the injected strain BMC Genomics 14:5

  • Fu J, Posnien N, Bolognesi R, Fischer TD, Rayl P, Oberhofer G, Kitzmann P, Brown SJ, Bucher G (2012) Asymmetrically expressed axin required for anterior development in Tribolium. PNAS 109(20):7782-6.

  • Posnien N, Koniszewski NB, Hein H, Bucher G (2011) Candidate Gene Screen in the red flour beetle Tribolium Reveals six3 as Ancient Regulator of Anterior Median Head and Central Complex Development Plos Genetics

  • Trauner J, Schinko J, Lorenzen MD, Shippy TD, Wimmer EA, Beeman RW, Klingler M, Bucher G and Brown SJ (2009) Large-scale insertional mutagenesis of a coleopteran stored grain pest, the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum, identifies embryonic lethal mutations and enhancer traps. BMC Biol 7:73.

  • Tomoyasu Y, Miller SC, Tomita S, Schoppmeier M, Grossmann D, Bucher G (2008) Exploring systemic RNA interference in insects: a genome-wide survey for RNAi genes in Tribolium. Genome Biol, 9:R10.

  • Richards S, Gibbs RA, Weinstock GM, Brown SJ, Denell R, et al (2008) The genome of the model beetle and pest Tribolium castaneum. Nature, 452:949-55.