Every year, the Biology department internally awards a prize to the best master's thesis of the year. In 2022, we can congratulate Julia Seimert and Melanie Trupp, because their theses particularly convinced the jury! Here you can find out what the two former Master's students worked on and what fascinated them most about this challenge.

As in the year before, two former master students were especially honored this year: During the traditional Christmas address of the dean on the occasion of the departmental Christmas party on December 14th, 2022, Melanie Trupp was awarded in the category "Organismically oriented thesis" as well as Julia Seimert in the category "Biochemically-molecular biology oriented thesis" for their especially good master theses. 


Evolutionary shift to terrestrial life in the plant kingdom

Title: "Comparative analyses of NPR homologs in land plants" by Melanie Trupp.

The prize for the best thesis in the category "organismically oriented thesis" was donated by the dean's office and presented to Melanie Trupp by the acting dean Prof. Dr. Michael Hensel. This thesis was prepared under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Sabine Zachgo, Professor of Botany.

The emergence of a terrestrial flora likely derived and diversified from an aquatic algae ancestor and was a major evolutionary transition. During evolution on land, different plant groups developed specific adaptations to the novel environment, such as defense mechanisms against pathogens or flowers that attract insects for pollination. These processes are regulated, among others, by transcription factors (TFs), sequence specific DNA-binding proteins that
control the expression of target genes, and their cofactors.

Die Gewinnerin des Masterpreises 2022, Melanie Trupp, steht unter Applaus der Fachbereichsmitglieder von ihrem Sitz im Hörsaal auf, um die Urkunde entgegen zu nehmen
© Dr. Felix Scharte | Osnabrück University

It is freezing cold. We put on our clothes. It is raining. We open our umbrellas. It is getting dangerous. We run. It's obvious, but plants can't do that. They are sessile and are forced to deal with challenges like cold, heat, drought and attacks by herbivores. About 600 million years ago, plants came out of the water and colonized the land, where they had to cope with many of these novel stressors. But how did they manage this transition? My intrinsic motivation to work genetically with plants is the fascination of the many innovations that have led to better environmental adaptation and increased plant diversity. It is totally interesting how a gene encoding for a TF can exert a strong impact on plant development and how the loss of such a gene can lead to dramatic effects on the plant phenotype. I would like to better understand the regulatory network of TFs and their cofactors, signaling pathways and how this affected the transition from water to land.

In her master thesis, Melanie looked in particular at the transcription cofactor "NPR1" (NON-EXPRESSOR OF PATHOGENESIS-RELATED GENES 1), a cofactor that appears for the first time in terrestrial plants. For this purpose, she worked with the model organism "Marchantia polymorpha", a liverwort. As a bryophyte, this occupies an informative phylogenetic position in the study of the evolutionary transition from plant life in water to life on land. Marchantia polymorpha contains only one NPR-like protein (MpNPR) and is therefore an ideal candidate to study the functions of this novel coregulator gene in this bryophyte.


The transport machinery of the cell and its cargo

Title: "Determining the cargo spectrum of yeast SNX-BAR sorting complexes by vacuolar proteomics" by Julia Seimert.

The prize for the biochemical-molecular biology oriented thesis for Julia Seimert was donated and presented by PhD students of our department in their function as junior GBM members (Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology e.V.). Her master thesis was prepared under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Florian Fröhlich (Bioanalytical Chemistry).

Die Gewinnerin des Masterpreises 2022, Julia Seimert, hält ihre Urkunde vom Masterpreis und steht umringt von Mitgliedern der jGBM Osnabrück und dem Dekan Prof. Hensel. Alle lächeln freundlich in die Kamera.
© Jan-Hannes Schäfer | Osnabrück University

What I find most fascinating is that our systematic approach gives us both impressions of the general trafficking routes and lets us identify single cargo proteins. Thanks to that we were able to find new interrelationships between various pathways and also start the investigation of proteins with so far unknown function.

During my master thesis, Julia focused on the role of SNX-BAR trafficking complexes that mediate the retrograde transport of proteins from the endosome to the Golgi. Their general function is fairly well understood, but cargos in the endovascular system in general have only been characterized using model proteins. Using an approach called “QPreVail”, which has been established in the lab of Prof. Fröhlich, Julia was able to analyze their cargo spectrum.


About the prizes: The announcement of the master prizes is organized by Prof. Dr. Christian Ungermann. The professors of Osnabrück biology are invited to nominate excellent master theses under their supervision. From the nominations, a jury selects the best thesis in the molecular spectrum and the best thesis in the organismal spectrum of biology.