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Research groups

The Drosophila Diptych

© Gil Costa
In 1962, Andy Warhol created the Marilyn Diptych, one of the most iconic depictions of human identity. Warhol’s style inspired the Drosophila Diptych, where each fly brain is idiosyncratic. Christoph's recent work (Treiber and Waddell, Genome Research 2020) presents new evidence that transposable elements generate functional diversity between individual flies from otherwise highly inbred strains.

Christoph D. Treiber

DPhil., Mag. rer. nat.


Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Behavioural geneticist investigating neuronal transposon expression in fruit flies and humans

Christoph is investigating the impact that transposons have on specific brain functions. Transposons are highly repetitive nucleotide sequences that constitute almost half of our genome. Their abundance and repetitiveness has presented a substantial challenge for researchers in the past. However, high-throughput single-cell sequencing that Christoph and Dr. Vincent Croset have recently pioneered in the vinegar fly Drosophila (Croset*, Treiber* and Waddell, eLife, 2018) has been a real game-changer. New analysis software that Christoph has developed now makes it possible to study transposon expression in individual cells on a genome-wide scale.

These new tools have recently helped discover that transposons are not expressed randomly in the brain. Christoph combined single-cell data with previous findings about the prevalence of transposons in the genomic DNA of cells in the fly brain (Treiber and Waddell, eLife 2017) and found that transposon expression is largely driven by neighbouring genes. In addition, transposons often form chimeric transcripts with genes, and thereby substantially enhance the transcript isoform repertoire of the brain (Treiber and Waddell, Genome Research 2020).

Many transposon insertions occur in genes that have previously been implicated in important neural processes - Christoph now performs and oversees experiments and analyses to further investigate these interactions.

He is also involved in several additional high-throughput single-cell sequencing experiments, both in the Waddell lab and as part of collaborations with other labs.

CNCB Fly Brain Atlas from CNCB on Vimeo.

Interview with Christoph and his colleague Dr. Vincent Croset, talking about their single-cell transcriptome of the fly brain.

Key publications

More publications