Diurnal regulation of folate homeostasis controls DNA methylation in Arabidopsis

Supervisor: Dr. Martin Groth

Enrolled since 2018

I studied biology in my bachelor’s and master’s at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (October 2012 – September 2018). During my studies, I put a strong focus on plant sciences and took the initiative to investigate plant metabolic pathways and protein allocation and their redox-based regulation. In October 2018, I joined the group of Dr. Martin Groth at the Institute of Biochemical Plant Pathology at the Helmholtz Zentrum München as a PhD student. My work is focused on the regulation of one-carbon metabolism and epigenetic dynamics in model plants subjected to variable growth conditions. Together with my colleagues, I aim to illustrate new mechanisms that enable organisms to memorize environmental cues and adjust to climate change, one of the biggest societal problems of our time.

Plants have developed sophisticated molecular responses to align their development to an ever-changing environment. During my PhD studies, I showed that environment-dependent changes in folate-mediated one-carbon metabolism affect DNA methylation and gene silencing in Arabidopsis. ​ Folate metabolism provides substrates for various transmethylation reactions including DNA methylation, a prominent epigenetic modification. We could demonstrate how diurnal oscillation of metabolites from folate metabolism and photoperiod length affect DNA methylation patterns. ​

Accordingly, these findings suggest a novel mechanism of epigenetic regulation by which the sensitivity and fidelity of DNA methylation pathways is controlled by environment-dependent changes in folate metabolism.


  • Early Career Participation Award - The 31st International Conference on Arabidopsis Research (ICAR)
  • Best Poster Award - 14th Plant Oxygen Group Conference


  • Auge G, Hankofer V, Groth M, Antoniou-Kourounioti R, Ratikainen I, Lampei C (2023) Plant environmental memory: implications, mechanisms and opportunities for plant scientists and beyond. AoB Plants 15: plad032​
  • Bugaeva W, Könnel A, Peter J, Mees J, Hankofer V, Schick C, Schmidt A, Banguela-Castillo A, Philippar K. FAX1 and FAX3 proteins in the inner envelope of plastids can complement each other for fatty acid transport. The Plant Journal, submitted June 2022.
  • Hankofer V, Poschet G, Ghirardo A, Obermaier L, Barthel G, Lange B, Weber B, Suresh Kumar J, Gross I, Schäffner A, Rychlik M, Schnitzler JP, Hell R, Wirtz M, Durner J, Groth M. Diurnal regulation of folate homeostasis controls DNA methylation in Arabidopsis. In preparation.