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Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

Dr Hans-Wilhelm Nuetzmann

Dr Hans-Wilhelm Nuetzmann

Senior Research Fellow


 Geoffrey Pope M02


Geoffrey Pope Building, University of Exeter , Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QD, UK


Our lab investigates the evolution of genome organisation, epigenetic gene regulation and chromosome architecture. We aim to better understand how genes are ordered along chromosomes, how genomes are organised and how tight co-ordinate gene regulation is achieved during organismic and environmental interactions.

Find our lab website here:


2008    Biology/Diplom          TU Dresden

2012    Dr. rer. nat.                Leibniz-HKI and FSU Jena          


2022 – 2023: Royal Society University Research Fellow, Senior Research Fellow and proleptic Senior Lecturer, University of Exeter & University of Bath, UK

2022 – 2023: Royal Society University Research Fellow, Senior Research Fellow and proleptic Senior Lecturer, University of Bath, UK

2017 – 2022: Royal Society University Research Fellow and proleptic Lecturer, University of Bath, UK

2012 – 2017: EMBO Long-Term Fellow and Postdoctoral Researcher, John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK

2008 – 2012: PhD research, Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology/HKI Jena, Germany

Research group links

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Research projects

We are investigating genome organisation and gene regulation in plant, fungal and parasite systems. Find our current projects below.


How do adjacent genes become co-expressed: Regulation of metabolic gene clusters (The Royal Society)

Here, we investigate the molecular mechanisms that govern the co-ordinate expression of neighbouring genes in eukaryotes. We use metabolic gene clusters, neighbouring non-homologous genes that encode the pathway steps in the synthesis of bioactive specialised metabolites, as our model system. Specialised metabolites have important roles in plant defence and signalling. We aim to uncover the structural chromatin landscape at metabolic gene clusters and define their functional importance for cluster regulation. This work will provide fundamental insight into the transcriptional control of neighbouring genes and will provide essential information for advanced and safe implementation of gene technology in eukaryotes.

Genome plasticity in 3D – chromosomal rearrangements in plant defence (The Royal Society)

In this project, we study if and how the three-dimensional shape of chromosomes orchestrates the response of eukaryotic organisms to their biotic environment. We use core genetic elements of the immune system of plants to study conformational plasticity of chromosomes during host – pathogen interactions. This study will expand our knowledge of how plant genomes function and contribute to an improved understanding of how plants respond to the ever-changing challenges in their environment.

Epigenetic control of strawberry secondary metabolism - a small fruit with a complex genome (BBSRC SWBio DTP together with Hilary Rogers, Cardiff University)

Here, we ask how genome complexity and higher-order gene regulatory mechanisms act on aroma and nutritional value of strawberries. We are particularly interested in changes to chromatin, gene transcription and the metabolome post-harvest and in cold-storage.

Analyzing transposable element integration patterns in the 3D genome of plants (The Royal Society; a joint project with Alex Bousios, University of Sussex, and Davide Michielleto, University of Edinburgh)

In this project, we study the proliferation of transposable elements in plant genomes. We are interested in how the constraints of three-dimensional nuclear and chromosome structure affect the integration of transposable elements into the host genome. This study will lead to new insights into the evolution of genomes and provide important information for plant breeding.

Understanding the Interaction Between Introgressed DNA and the Wider Wheat Genome (Bristol Centre for Agricultural Innovation and BBSRC SWBIO DTP, a joint project with Keith Edwards, University of Bristol)

Here, we study the interplay between introgressed DNA elements and the host genome. This project will result in a better understanding of modern breeding processes. 

The role of 'parasitism islands' in infection by soil-transmitted helminths (GW4 BioMed2 MRC DTP, a joint project with Vicky Hunt, University of Bath)

In this project, we will investigate the role and organisation of parasitism islands in nematodes. Our study will help us to better understand the genetic toolbox used by parasites to successfully infect the host.

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Journal articles

Nguyen TH, Thiers L, Van Moerkercke A, Bai Y, Fernández-Calvo P, Minne M, Depuydt T, Colinas M, Verstaen K, Van Isterdael G, et al (2023). A redundant transcription factor network steers spatiotemporal Arabidopsis triterpene synthesis. Nature Plants, 9(6), 926-937.
Méteignier L-V, Nützmann H-W, Papon N, Osbourn A, Courdavault V (2022). Emerging mechanistic insights into the regulation of specialized metabolism in plants. Nature Plants, 9(1), 22-30.
Zhao H, Yang M, Bishop J, Teng Y, Cao Y, Beall BD, Li S, Liu T, Fang Q, Fang C, et al (2022). Identification and functional validation of super-enhancers in. <i>Arabidopsis thaliana</i>. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(48). Abstract.
Di Stefano M, Nützmann H-W (2021). Modeling the 3D genome of plants. Nucleus, 12(1), 65-81.
Di Stefano M, Nützmann H-W, Marti-Renom MA, Jost D (2021). Polymer modelling unveils the roles of heterochromatin and nucleolar organizing regions in shaping 3D genome organization in<i>Arabidopsis thaliana</i>. Nucleic Acids Research, 49(4), 1840-1858. Abstract.
Bishop J, Swan H, Valente F, Nützmann H-W (2021). The Plant Nuclear Envelope and its Role in Gene Transcription. Frontiers in Plant Science, 12 Abstract.
Hao X, Xie C, Ruan Q, Zhang X, Wu C, Han B, Qian J, Zhou W, Nuetzmann H-W, Kai G, et al (2021). The transcription factor <i>OpWRKY2</i> positively regulates the biosynthesis of the anticancer drug camptothecin in <i>Ophiorrhiza pumila</i>. HORTICULTURE RESEARCH, 8(1).  Author URL.
Nützmann H-W, Doerr D, Ramírez-Colmenero A, Sotelo-Fonseca JE, Wegel E, Di Stefano M, Wingett SW, Fraser P, Hurst L, Fernandez-Valverde SL, et al (2020). Active and repressed biosynthetic gene clusters have spatially distinct chromosome states. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(24), 13800-13809. Abstract.
Bousios A, Nützmann H-W, Buck D, Michieletto D (2020). Integrating transposable elements in the 3D genome. Mobile DNA, 11(1). Abstract.
Huang AC, Jiang T, Liu Y-X, Bai Y-C, Reed J, Qu B, Goossens A, Nützmann H-W, Bai Y, Osbourn A, et al (2019). A specialized metabolic network selectively modulates. <i>Arabidopsis</i>. root microbiota. Science, 364(6440). Abstract.
Hao X, Zhong Y, N�tzmann H-W, Fu X, Yan T, Shen Q, Chen M, Ma Y, Zhao J, Osbourn A, et al (2019). Light-Induced Artemisinin Biosynthesis is Regulated by the bZIP Transcription Factor AaHY5 in <i>Artemisia annua</i>. Plant and Cell Physiology, 60(8), 1747-1760. Abstract.
Nützmann H-W, Scazzocchio C, Osbourn A (2018). Metabolic Gene Clusters in Eukaryotes. Annual Review of Genetics, 52(1), 159-183. Abstract.
Hetherington FM, Nützmann H (2017). Embracing the next generation of plant scientists. New Phytologist, 217(2), 504-506.
Yu N, Nützmann HW, Macdonald JT, Moore B, Field B, Berriri S, Trick M, Rosser SJ, Kumar SV, Freemont PS, et al (2016). Delineation of metabolic gene clusters in plant genomes by chromatin signatures. Nucleic Acids Research, 44(5), 2255-2265. Abstract.
Nützmann H-W, Huang A, Osbourn A (2016). Plant metabolic clusters - from genetics to genomics. New Phytol, 211(3), 771-789. Abstract.  Author URL.
Medema MH, Kottmann R, Yilmaz P, Cummings M, Biggins JB, Blin K, de Bruijn I, Chooi YH, Claesen J, Coates RC, et al (2015). Minimum Information about a Biosynthetic Gene cluster. Nat Chem Biol, 11(9), 625-631.  Author URL.
Nuetzmann H-W, Osbourn A (2015). Regulation of metabolic gene clusters in Arabidopsis thaliana. NEW PHYTOLOGIST, 205(2), 503-510.  Author URL.
Bohnert M, Nuetzmann H-W, Schroeckh V, Horn F, Dahse H-M, Brakhage AA, Hoffmeister D (2014). Cytotoxic and antifungal activities of melleolide antibiotics follow dissimilar structure-activity relationships. PHYTOCHEMISTRY, 105, 101-108.  Author URL.
Nützmann H-W, Osbourn A (2014). Erratum to “Gene clustering in plant specialized metabolism” [Curr Opin Biotechnol 2014, 26:91–99]. Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 26, 199-199.
Schroeckh V, Nützmann H, Brakhage AA (2014). Fungal‐Actinomycete Interactions – Wakening of Silent Fungal Secondary Metabolism Gene Clusters via Interorganismic Interactions. , 147-158.
Nuetzmann H-W, Osbourn A (2014). Gene clustering in plant specialized metabolism. CURRENT OPINION IN BIOTECHNOLOGY, 26, 91-99.  Author URL.
Nuetzmann H-W, Fischer J, Scherlach K, Hertweck C, Brakhage AA (2013). Distinct Amino Acids of Histone H3 Control Secondary Metabolism in <i>Aspergillus nidulans</i>. APPLIED AND ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY, 79(19), 6102-6109.  Author URL.
Nuetzmann H-W, Reyes-Dominguez Y, Scherlach K, Schroeckh V, Horn F, Gacek A, Schuemann J, Hertweck C, Strauss J, Brakhage AA, et al (2011). Bacteria-induced natural product formation in the fungus <i>Aspergillus nidulans</i> requires Saga/Ada-mediated histone acetylation. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 108(34), 14282-14287.  Author URL.
Scherlach K, Nuetzmann H-W, Schroeckh V, Dahse H-M, Brakhage AA, Hertweck C (2011). Cytotoxic Pheofungins from an Engineered Fungus Impaired in Posttranslational Protein Modification. ANGEWANDTE CHEMIE-INTERNATIONAL EDITION, 50(42), 9843-9847.  Author URL.
Schroeckh V, Scherlach K, Nuetzmann H-W, Shelest E, Schmidt-Heck W, Schuemann J, Martin K, Hertweck C, Brakhage AA (2009). Intimate bacterial-fungal interaction triggers biosynthesis of archetypal polyketides in <i>Aspergillus nidulans</i>. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 106(34), 14558-14563.  Author URL.


Pérez-de los Santos FJ, Sotelo-Fonseca JE, Ramírez-Colmenero A, Nützmann H-W, Fernandez-Valverde SL, Oktaba K (2022). Plant in Situ Hi-C Experimental Protocol and Bioinformatic Analysis. In  (Ed) Methods in Molecular Biology, Springer US, 217-247.
Huang AC, Nützmann H-W (2020). Chromatin Analysis of Metabolic Gene Clusters in Plants. In  (Ed) Methods in Molecular Biology, Springer US, 129-146.
Nuetzmann H-W, Schroeckh V, Brakhage AA (2012). Regulatory Cross Talk and Microbial Induction of Fungal Secondary Metabolite Gene Clusters. In  (Ed) NATURAL PRODUCT BIOSYNTHESIS BY MICROORGANISMS AND PLANTS, PT C, 325-341.  Author URL.

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