Portrait #1: Wietje Nolte from Stralsund

Wietje Nolte bet on the horse at an early age, privately as well as professionally, the horses have all of her passion. Photo: Peter Tendler

Wildly successful in profession and hobby

April 02, 2020 - Stralsund, Paris, Wageningen in the Netherlands, Rostock, Dummerstorf and Moritzburg - these are the locations of the still quite young scientific career of Wietje Nolte, who is currently doing her doctorate at FBN. In addition, internships and semesters abroad during her studies and doctorate led her to Vienna and Belmont in Ireland as well as to Brisbane in Australia.

Born in Stralsund, she packed her bags after graduating from high school and went to Paris before studying animal husbandry in Wageningen at the Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences (Netherlands). Afterwards she obtained a Master of Science in farm animal science from Rostock University.

In the course of her master's thesis she met the head of the FBN Institute of Genome Biology, Professor Dr. Christa Kühn. It was Christa Kühn, who subsequently offered the now 29-year-old a doctorate. "Due to my good experience during my Master's studies at the University of Rostock, I was very happy to take this opportunity in 2017," said the young scientist. At that time, the horse lover and passionate rider had studied the population structure of warmbloods using genomic data.

Tracing the secrets of bovine genomics

In her doctoral thesis and as a junior researcher at FBN, Wietje Nolte is also working on a topic in genome biology. She is investigating a special group of genomic elements - long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), i.e. large ribonucleic acid molecules - in a bovine model.

These do not "produce" or encode proteins, but instead perform other important functions in the organism. "However, the concrete tasks for most lncRNAs in the cell are still largely unexplained," says Wietje Nolte describing her research approach. "Only about two percent of the components in the genome are genes that encode proteins - lncRNAs are among the other 98 percent. In my doctorate I am analysing the influence of these specific RNAs on gene expression and metabolic processes in cattle. These have, for example, an effect on meat production or milk yield in cattle."

The doctoral student is mainly responsible for the bioinformatic analysis of gene expression. The first paper on the doctoral thesis was already published in the journal "Frontiers in Genetics" in November last year; two more manuscripts are close to completion. The next station after her doctorate has already been determined. In Saxony, she has been supporting the local Horse Breeders Association and the Saxon Stud Administration as a consultant for horse management at the State Office for Environment, Agriculture and Geology since January.

A steady hand on the easel and firmly in the saddle

The young scientist is not only professionally involved with animals and their genetics. Since early childhood, the Stralsund native has been passionate about painting and riding and has already made a name for herself as an artist. "Horses have always fascinated me. Both as a painter and as a rider. Horse and rider are connected by an intimate relationship and it always appeals to me to capture this personality and the character of horses for their owners on canvas."

In the meantime, Wietje Nolte has long since expanded her repertoire and also immortalises other animal favourites or wild animals as well as people and landscapes with pencil or brush. Many lifelike portraits of wolves, cats, birds or dogs have been created in this way. If you are interested in her artistic works, you can get a good insight on her website