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Rob Martienssen analyzes the regulation of transposable elements (TEs), or “jumping genes,” in plant gametes to understand how they can disrupt proper gene function and plant reproduction. His lab group uses epigenetic techniques to investigate two key regulators of TEs, heterochromatin reprogramming and RNA interference. By studying how TEs are controlled in plant germ cells, Martienssen aims to gain a deeper understanding of how plants reproduce – both sexually and asexually via cloning – which could provide promising information for plant breeders.