University of Dundee

Professor Anton Gartner

C. elegans genetics as a model to study basic biological problems
Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow
School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee
Full Telephone: 
+44 (0) 1382 385809, int ext 85809


Despite of its simplicity, C. elegans is a multicellular organism that shares many fundamental genetic programs with humans. Thus many results obtained in the C. elegans system are likely to be applicable to mammalian systems. Our studies on C. elegans are facilitated by the simplicity of the organism at the developmental and anatomical level, by the ease of its maintenance, as well as by the power of forward and reverse genetic procedures. Furthermore, we take advantage of the complete genome information and by shared resources of the "worm community".

In response to DNA damage organisms activate checkpoint pathways. In multicellular organisms these pathways lead the activation of DNA repair processes, to a transient cell cycle arrest, or to programmed cell death to eliminate cells that might potentially become harmful for the entire organism.The analysis of the pathways needed for DNA damage sensing, DAN repair and the elucidation of checkpoint responses are currently under intense investigation. We were among the first to use C. elegans to contribute to the understanding of DNA damage dependent apoptosis. Given that genome instability is a major course of human cancers we hope, that in the long run, we might contribute to better tumour-diagnostics and treatment.

Furthermore, we also started to explore C. elegans to uncover molecular mechanisms leading to Parkinson's Disease. Finally we engage in multiple collaborations within the college. Projects include the visualization of key aspects of DNA replication in early C. elegans embryos, and taking full advantage of advanced quantitative mass spectroscopy based approaches.


Anton gives lectures for 3rd year students in the Genetics and Gene Regulation and Expression Modules. He is also engaged in teaching 4th year students in the Gene Regulation and Expression Module.


Hong Y, Sonneville R, Agostinho A, Meier B, Wang B, Blow JJ, Gartner A. The SMC-5/6 Complex and the HIM-6 (BLM) helicase synergistically promote meiotic recombination intermediate processing and chromosome maturation during Caenorhabditis elegans meiosis. PLoS Genet. 2016 Mar 24;12(3):e1005872. PMID: 27010650. view paper

Yijin Liu, Alasdair D. J. Freeman, Anne-Cécile Déclais, Timothy J. Wilson, Anton Gartner and David M. J. Lilley, Crystal structure of a eukaryotic GEN1 resolving enzyme bound to DNA. Cell Reports, 2015, Dec 22th; 13(11):2565-75.  PMID: 26686639. PMCID:PMC4695337. view paper

Remi Sonneville, Gillian Craig, Karim Labib, Anton Gartner* and J. Julian Blow Linking DNA replication to Chromosome Condensation, Cell Reports, 2015, Jul 21;12(3):405-17 *Co-corresponding author.  PMID:26166571. PMCID: PMC4521082. view paper

Larance M, Pourkarimi E, Wang B, Murillo AB, Kent R, Lamond AI, Gartner A. Global proteomics analysis of the response to starvation in C. elegans. Mol Cell Proteomics. 2015 May 11. pii: mcp.M114.044289.  PMID: 25963834.  PMCID: PMC4587315. view paper

Masoudi N, Ibanez-Cruceyra P, Offenburger SA, Gartner A, Tetraspanin TSP-17 Protects Dopaminergic Neurons against 6OHDA- Induced Neurodegeneration in C. elegans. PloS Genetics, 2014, Dec 4th.  PMID: 25474638. PMCID: PMC4256090. view paper

B. Meier, SL Cooke, J Weiss, AP Bailly, LB Alexandrov, J Marshall, K Raine, M Maddison, E Anderson, MR Stratton, A Gartner*, PC Campbell. C. elegans whole genome sequencing reveals mutational signatures related to carcinogens and DNA repair deficiency. Genome Res. 2014, Jul 16. pii: gr.175547.114. *Co-corresponding author. PMID: 25030888.  PMCID: PMC4199376. view paper

Pelisch F, Sonneville R, Pourkarimi E, Agostinho A, Blow JJ, Gartner A, and Hay RT, Dynamic SUMO modification regulates mitotic chromosome assembly and cell cycle progression in Caenorhabditis elegans. Nature Communication, 2014, Dec 5th.  PMID: 25475837. PMCID: PMC4268692. view paper

A Agostinho, B Meier, R Sonneville, M Jagut, A Woglar, J Blow, V Jantsch and A Gartner. Combinatorial Regulation of Meiotic Holliday Junction Resolution in C. elegans by HIM-6 (BLM) Helicase, SLX-4, and the SLX-1, MUS-81 and XPF-1 Nucleases. PLoS Genetics, 2013 Jul 9(7): e1003591.  PMCID: PMC3715425. view paper

R Sonneville, M Querenet, A Craig, A Gartner*, JJ Blow. The dynamics of replication licensing in live Caenorhabditis elegans embryos. Journal of Cell Biology, 2012 Jan 23; 196(2): 233-246 *Co-corresponding author.  PMID: 22249291. PMCID:PMC3265957. view paper

M Larance, AP Bailly, E Pourkarimi, RT Hay, G Buchanan, S Coulthurst, DP Xirodimas, A Gartner*, AI Lamond, Stable-isotope labeling with amino acids in nematodes. Nature Methods, 2011 Aug 28;8(10): 849-851 *Co-corresponding author.  PMCID: PMC3184259. view paper

AP Bailly, A Freeman, J Hall, AC Déclais, A Alpi, D Lilley, S Ahmed, A Gartner. The Caenorhabtidis elegans homolog of Gen1/Yen1 resolvases links DNA damage signaling to DNA double-strand break repair. PLoS Genetics, 2010 Jul 15;6(7):e1001025.  PMID: 20661466.  PMCID: PMC2908289. view paper



Besides reviewing scientific papers and grant applications, Anton is also engaged with public relations work. He has spoken to many Parkinson’s Disease patients groups to explain basic research done in the field of neurodegeneration. His research was used as the basis of several funding campaigns and also inspired the generation of Dave the worm, a comic figure with presence on Twitter and Facebook explaining research on Parkinson’s disease.  Anton will also take part in an information event relating to Parkinson’s research at the Scottish Parliament.

Anton hosts high school students and most importantly has set up and leads the GRE summer school. As part of this program  ~12 undergraduate summer students are placed within various GRE laboratories and get hands-on experience by taking part in various scientific projects.  Anton recently also took up responsibilities helping with the BBSC funded PHD program. A recent collaboration with the Sanger Center, that involves large-scale C. elegans sequencing, is at the forefront of developing the next generation of assays for measuring the genotoxicity of known and suspected environmental toxins.  All of Anton's former PhD students are still in science, and two hold independent PI positions in the UK.