Recognizing The Plant Cell first authors: Mariana Diaz

Mariana Diaz, first author of SMC5/6 Complex Subunit NSE4A is Involved in DNA Damage Repair and Seed Development in Arabidopsis

Current position: Postdoctoral researcher, Matsunaga laboratory, Tokyo University of Science

Education: Ph.D., University of Cologne/Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne, Germany; Engineers degree, University of Concepcion, Concepcion, Chile

Non-scientific interests: Learning foreign languages, travelling, watching TV (Star Trek Discovery & GOT), biking, & hiking

Brief bio: During my undergraduate studies I became interested in genome stability, which is a research area little developed in my mother country. This motivated me to contact Dr. Ales Pecinka from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research. We wrote a project, which was awarded a DAAD fellowship for conducting my Ph.D. studies in Germany. In Ales’s lab, I focused on characterization of SMC5/6 complex subunits NSE4A and NSE4B. During my studies, I attended the Plant Genome Stability and Change conference in Japan, where I met Prof. Sachihiro Matsunaga and we discussed about joining his lab. At the end of my Ph.D. I took a few months for writing (thesis and manuscripts) where I also learnt Japanese, since I knew that I would be the first foreigner in this laboratory and that the lab meetings were in Japanese. Now as a postdoc in Japan, I’m working in plant regeneration, in a project, which allows me to link the expertise in genome stability and DNA damage repair with plant tissue culture. To identify genes involved in de novo shoot regeneration, I performed a reverse genetic screen, which revealed two candidates displaying such phenotype. As a little spoiler for my next paper: the candidate genes are involved in controlling genome stability, and I work in elucidating their mechanism of action in plant regeneration.