Thibauld Michel


I have graduated as a MSc in molecular biology and peptidomics at the Lille University of Science and Technology, France. I have subsequently worked on genomic-based plant breeding in Teagasc, the Irish national research institute in agronomy. I have contributed to the European project GrassMargins whose aim was to cultivate varieties of energy grasses able to grow on marginal lands with low inputs. The work package purpose was to establish the phylogenetic relationships between Miscanthus accessions with RAD markers.
Then, I have been part of the VICCI project, aiming to cultivate forage crops adapted to the cold and wet Irish spring with low nitrogen inputs. An association-mapping study of several Lolium perenne varieties was performed with the GWAS method for variety improvement.

I am interested in the very particular population genetic structure of the Begonia genus and the analysis of ancient DNA. I have started my career working on agronomic subjects involving molecular characterization of plants with High Throughput Sequencing for easier and faster plant breeding, answering practical and ecological issues. Applying the same tools to ancient herbarium DNA will provide answers to a large array of questions related to phylogenetic inference in the fields of botany, taxonomy, and population genetics. New molecular biology and computational biology methods will enable to overcome the multiple technical constraints of ancient DNA analysis as sample degradation, low number of specimens available, limited quantity of material, and possible specimen contamination.

Based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, my subject focuses on assessing the genetic health of Begonia populations using a Hyb-Seq approach. First on living plants from the botanic garden collection, and then plants specimens from the herbarium in order to build a pipeline able to provide high-resolution genomic datasets from ancient DNA.

I will be sharing the molecular techniques related to genotyping acquired during my former experiences with the Plant.ID partners. But more information is going to be exchanged as similar questions and problematic will emerge in different projects. Technical information on DNA recovery from herbarium material have been and will be shared with ESR8, ESR12, and ESR15. The exchanges and optimization of protocols will be established for the target enrichment methods used by ESR5, ESR9, ESR10, ESR13, and ESR15. During the data analysis, specific matters as the influence of variable ploidy in-population will be discussed with these partners, and ESR1. Then, the use of genomics data to infer evolutionary patterns, morphology, or biogeography will be discussed with all the partners, especially ESR2, ESR8, ESR9, and ESR14.