Faculty & Research


William Zerges



Associate Professor, PhD (Princeton)



Cell Physiology
Advanced Genetics

Research Interests

We are investigating cell biological processes in the chloroplast of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. This unicellular green alga is a popular model organism for research of chloroplast biogenesis and photosynthesis. We have identified two novel chloroplast compartments with intriguingly similarities to the endoplasmic reticulum and stress granules.

Another project is studying translational control in the chloroplast.

Recent Publications

Bohne, A.-V., Schwarz, C., Schottkowski, M., Lidschreiber, M., Piotrowski, M., Zerges, W. and Nickelsen, J. (2013). Reciprocal regulation of protein synthesis and carbon metabolism for thylakoid membrane biogenesis.  PLoS Biol. I (in press).

B. L. Weis, E. Schleiff, and W. Zerges (2013) Protein targeting to subcellular organelles via mRNA localization. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Cell Research 1833; 260-273

M. Schottkowski, M. Peters, Yu Zhan, O. Rifai, Y. Zhang, and W. Zerges (2012) Biogenic membranes of the chloroplast in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109(47):19286-19291.

Hutchins, C.M, Simon, DF, Zerges, W. and K J Wilkinson (2010) Transcriptomic signatures in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as Cd biomarkers in metal mixtures.  Aquatic Toxicology 100(1):120-7.Uniacke, J. and W. Zerges. Chloroplast Protein Targeting Involves Localized Translation in Chlamydomonas (2009) Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA  106 (5) 1439-1444

James Uniacke and William Zerges. 2008. Stress induces the assembly of RNA granules in the chloroplast of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Journal of Cell Biology 182: 641-646.

Simon, D.F., Descombes, P., Zerges, W., and Wilkinson, K.J. 2008. Global expression profiling of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii exposed to trace levels of free cadmium. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Vol. 27, No. 8, pp. 1668-1675.

James Uniacke and William Zerges. 2007. Photosystem II assembly and repair a differentially localized in Chlamydomonas. The Plant Cell, 19: 3640-54.

Zerges, W., Auchincloss A., and J-D Rochaix. 2003. Multiple translational control sequences in the 5' leader of the chloroplast psbC mRNA interact with nuclear gene products in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Genetics, 163(3): 895-904.

Zerges W., Wang S., and J.-D. Rochaix. 2002. Light activates binding of membrane proteins to chloroplast RNAs in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Plant Molecular Biology, 50(3): 573-85

Auchincloss A., Zerges W., Perron, K., Girard-Bascou and J-D Rochaix. 2002. Characterization of Tbc2, a nucleus-encoded factor specifically required for translation of the chloroplast psbC mRNA in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Journal of Cell Biology, 157(6): 953-62.

Zerges, W. and J. D. Rochaix. 1998. Low-Density membranes are associated with RNA-binding proteins and thylakoids in the chloroplast of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Journal of Cell Biology 140: 101-110.

Zerges, W., J. Girard-Bascou, and J. D. Rochaix. 1997. Translation of the chloroplast psbC mRNA is controlled by interactions between its 5' leader and the nuclear loci TBC1 and TBC3 in Chlamydomonas. Molecular and Cellular Biology 17: 3440-3448.

Stampacchia, O., J. Girard-Bascou, J.L. Zanasco, W. Zerges, P. Bennoun and J.D. Rochaix. 1997. A nuclear-encoded function essential for translation of the chloroplastic psaB mRNA in Chlamydomonas. The Plant Cell 9: 773-782.

Zerges, W. and J. D. Rochaix. 1994. The 5' leader of a chloroplast mRNA mediates the translational requirements for two nucleus-encoded functions in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Molecular and Cellular Biology 14: 5268-5277.

Book Chapters and Review Articles

William Zerges and Charles Hauser. 2008. Translation - Protein Synthesis. The Chlamydomonas Sourcebook, Volume 2. Elsevier Academic Publishers. (in press).

Zerges W. 2006. Translation in Chloroplasts. In: Understanding Chloroplasts. Hoober J.K. (ed.), Henry Stewart Talks Ltd., London.

Zerges, W. 2005. Regulation of Translation in Chloroplasts: By Light and for Protein Complex Assembly. In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of Plant Organelles Edited by Henry Daniell & Christine Chase, Kluwer Academic Publishers. 347-384.

Zerges, W. 2002. Does Complexity Constrain Organelle Evolution? Trends in Plant Science, 7(4): 175-182

Zerges, W. 2000. Translation in chloroplasts Biochimie 82; 583-601.

Concordia University