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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2023/24 Prof. Dr. Wolfgang R. Hess

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang R. Hess

University of Freiburg
Genetics and Experimental Bioinformatics
Internal Senior Fellow
October 2017 - September 2019


Wolfgang R. Hess studied biology at the University of Rostock and the Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany, where he obtained his doctorate in 1990 and the habilitation in 1999. After a post-doc at the CNRS institute in Roscoff, France, running a junior research group at the Humboldt-University Berlin and pursuing research projects as visiting scientist at the Friedrich-Miescher Institute in Basel, Switzerland and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S., he became in 2003 funding director of the Ocean Genome Legacy Foundation, a spin-off from the biotech company New England Biolabs. In 2004 he became appointed as a Professor for Experimental Bioinformatics and in 2008 as a Full Professor for Genetics at the University of Freiburg, Germany. He has been a William Evans Guest Professor at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

Selected Publications

  • Georg J., Kostova G., Vuorijoki L., Schön V., Kadowaki T., Huokko T., Baumgartner D., Müller M., Klähn S., Allahverdiyeva Y., Hihara Y., Futschik M., Aro E.M., Hess W.R. (2017) Acclimation of oxygenic photosynthesis to iron starvation is controlled by the sRNA IsaR1. Current Biology 10, 1425–1436.
  • Reimann V., Alkhnbashi O., Saunders S.J., Scholz I., Hein S., Backofen R., Hess W.R. (2017) Structural constraints and enzymatic promiscuity in the Cas6-dependent generation of crRNAs. Nucleic Acids Research 45, 915-925.
  • Klähn S., Schaal C., Georg J., Baumgartner D., Knippen G., Hagemann M., Muro-Pastor A.M., Hess W.R. (2015) The sRNA NsiR4 is involved in nitrogen assimilation control in cyanobacteria by targeting glutamine synthetase inactivation factor IF7. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 112, E6243-52.
  • Kopf M., Klähn S., Pade N., Weingärtner C., Hagemann M., Voß B., Hess W.R. (2014) Comparative genome analysis of the closely related Synechocystis strains PCC 6714 and PCC 6803. DNA Research 21, 255-266.
  • Mitschke J., Georg J., Scholz I., Sharma C., Dienst, D., Bantscheff J., Steglich C., Voss B., Wilde, A., Vogel J., Hess W.R. (2011) An experimentally anchored map of transcriptional start sites in the model cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108, 2124-2129.

FRIAS Research Project

MapRNA: Mapping RNA-RNA pairings in vivo in bacteria and their importance in fast acclimation processes

The project “MapRNA” combines innovative technologies to generate complete maps of interactions between small non-coding RNAs (sRNAs) and their targets in two different bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus as a major pathogen and Synechocystis 6803, as a major model for prokaryotic photosynthetic biotechnology. Particularly, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strains at the hospital are a major life-threatening problem causing about 25,000 deaths per year in Europe, but community-associated MRSA strains appear even more virulent and transmissible.

Bacteria possess a large number of regulatory sRNAs that are key players in biological signaling networks. However, they are less well studied than regulatory proteins because their direct targets are difficult to identify. The two MapRNA partner groups will combine their complementary expertise at the interface of bioinformatics, experimental RNA biology, and microbial system biology to fundamentally improve this situation. The results will allow deep insight into the regulatory mechanisms at the molecular level and help to identify novel therapeutical targets and to enhance the yield from photobiotechnology.

MapRNA will deepen the already excellent relationship between the Universities of Strasbourg and of Freiburg and will promote the mobility and interculturality between our students and researchers contributing to the spirit of the European Campus.