Ezgi Özkurt


Office: 108
Office phone: + 49 4522 763-265
E-mail: ozkurt@evolbio.mpg.de
Link to CV

Research interests

1. Domestication-driven Metaorganism Evolution of Wheat              

My main research is about domestication-driven metaorganism evolution of wheat. In this project, I am focusing on the vertically transmitting microbes from seeds into seedlings in wheat. The central question is how domestication has shaped the genetic diversity, composition and function of seed-associated prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbes.

We aim to characterize evolutionary change in community composition both over long (since start of domestication, which is 10.000 – 12.000 years) and short evolutionary times (across growth seasons). To do this, we have wild (Triticum dicoccoidesTriticum boeticum and Triticum urartu) and domesticated (Triticum aestivum) wheat seed collections  from South-East Turkey, located in the Fertile Crescent where domestication of wheat took place.


Figure 1: Closed and sterile system where I germinate sterilized wheat seeds.

My project relies on 16S and ITS amplification, sequencing and data analysis of microorganisms associated with  different species of wheat. This project is funded by CRC1182 Metaorganism Research Center in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Tal Dagan, Kiel University and Prof. Dr. Hakan Özkan, Çukurova University, Turkey.

2. Genome Evolution of the Zymoseptoria pseudotritici: A homoploid hybrid speciation event                                                                                                                                                                                  I am also working on a project about genome evolution of hybrid fungal species Zymoseptoria pseudotritici. This fungal species, isolated from Ardabil region of Iran from diverse grasses, is a close relative of well-known wheat pathogen Z. tritici. The species shows unexpected patterns of sequence diversity: Half of the genome is depleted of any variation. Furthermore, the genome is a mosaic of non- variable and highly variable long genomic regions. The genomic analyses signal to an hybridization event occured recently (~500 generations ago) between two individuals (~3 % diverged from each other) which gave rise to Z.pseudotritici hybrid species (For more information see Stukenbrock et al., 2012, PNAS).

Figure 2: Distribution of variable (red) and nonvariable (green) segments over chromosomes of Z. pseudotritici. Figure from Stukenbrock et al., 2012.

Recently, I am focusing on Z. pseudotritici from a population genetics view. Briefly, I analyze the genomes of 27 isolates and detecting the demography of the population after hybridization and identifying new mutations accumulating on the genome and the pattern of the accumulation. This project is in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Mikkel Heide Schierup, Aarhus University, Denmark.

Short CV

2016 – still                                                                                                                                                                 PhD student, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology & Kiel University, Environmental Genomics group supervised by Eva Stukenbrock

2014 – 2015                                                                                                                                                                MSc student, Middle East Technical University, Biology department, Comparative & Evolutionary Biology group, supervised by Mehmet Somel

2009 – 2014
BSc student, Middle East Technical University, Molecular Biology and Genetics department


Higher Stochasticity of Microbiota Composition in Seedlings of Domesticated Wheat Compared to Wild Wheat. Ezgi Özkurt, M. Amine Hassani, Uğur Sesiz, Tal Dagan, Hakan Özkan, Eva H. Stukenbrock. (2019). available in bioRxiv: https://doi.org/10.1101/685164

Microbial community assembly and co-adaptation in plant-metaorganisms. M. Amine Hassani, Ezgi Özkurt, Heike Seybold, Tal Dagan, Eva H. Stukenbrock. (accepted, Annual Review of Phytopathology)

Determining the origin of synchronous multifocal bladder cancer by exome sequencing. Özkurt, E.* & Acar, O.*, Demir, G., Saraç, H., Alkan, C., Esen, T., Lack, N. A. & Somel, M (2015).  BMC Cancer, 15, 871. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12885-015-1859-8

Heterochrony explains convergent testis evolution in primates. Saglican, E., Özkurt, E., Hu, H., Erdem B., Khaitovich P., Some,l M. (2014).  Submitted, Available on bioRxiv doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/010553

© Stukenbrock Lab 2018