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Dr Matthias Benoit

Dr Matthias Benoit

Research Associate

Sainsbury Laboratory
University of Cambridge
47 Bateman Street

Cambridge CB2 1LR
Office Phone: +44(0)1223 761100


Current research

My research as a member of the Paszkowski lab aims at investigating the consequences of environmental stresses and developmental switches on the activity of transposons in the crop plant tomato. Long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposons represent a large fraction of plant genomes. De novo annotation of LTR retrotransposons in tomato revealed more than 4000 intact elements, some of them resulting of very recent transposition events as revealed by sequence identity between LTRs. We hypothesize that transposon, beyond their selfish behavior, could have regulatory functions and might facilitate adaptation to environmental stresses and/or regulate developmental switches.

Using a combination of genetic, transcriptomic and epigenomic approaches, I identified LTR retrotransposons families subjected to environmental or developmental activation. I am currently investigating a potential role for such a targeted activation by taking advantage of genetic and epigenetic resources, as well as natural variation, available in tomato.

Ultimately, building on this knowledge obtained from this project, we aim at establishing a controlled and targeted retrotransposition system in crop plants in order to promote genetic diversity and phenotypic plasticity using transposon activity.


Previous work

After completing my Master Degree in Genetics, Development and Cellular Biology, I obtained my PhD thesis performing a comprehensive analysis of the role histone H3 variants and chaperones in chromatin architecture. This work revealed the critical role of H3 chaperones in maintenance of nucleosomal occupancy and transcriptional gene silencing (Duc et al., 2015, Duc et al. 2017), and in the overall establishment of heterochromatic domains (Benoit et al., 2013, Poulet et al., 2017), thus identifying H3 chaperone activity as a driving force in formation and maintenance of eukaryotic genome structure.

Key Publications

Arabidopsis ATRX Modulates H3.3 Occupancy and Fine-Tunes Gene Expression.
Duc C, Benoit M, Détourné G, Simon L., Poulet A, Jung M, Veluchamy A, Latrasse D, Le Goff S, Cotterell S, Tatout C, Benhamed M, Probst AV. Jul 6, 2017, The Plant Cell


The LINC complex contributes to heterochromatin organisation and transcriptional gene silencing in plants.
Poulet A, Duc C, Voisin M, Desset S, Tutois S, Vanrobays E, Benoit M, Evans DE, Probst AV, Tatout C. Jan 3, 2017, Journal of Cell Science


The histone chaperone complex HIR maintains nucleosome occupancy and counterbalances impaired histone deposition in CAF-1 complex mutants.
Duc C, Benoit M, Le Goff S, Simon L, Poulet A, Cotterell S, Tatout C, Probst AV. Mar 1, 2015, The Plant Journal


Heterochromatin dynamics during developmental transitions in Arabidopsis - a focus on ribosomal DNA loci.
Benoit M, Layat E, Tourmente S, Probst AV. Feb 12, 2013, Gene