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The major functions of eukaryotic genomes – the transcription of genes, the replication of the genome, the recognition and repair of DNA damage as well as the recombination of chromosomes – are governed by their organisation into chromatin. Chromatin structure is key to converting the genetic blueprint of an organism into a series of cell type-specific epigenomes. The groups of the Molecular Biology Unit at the Adolf-Butenandt Institute address various aspects of chromatin structure and epigenome function during cell growth and differentiation, organismic development and disease. We are interested in how functional states derive from the interplay of two opposing principles: those that endow chromatin structures with plasticity and enable a cell to respond to internal and external signals, and others promoting the assembly of lasting, heritable structures, which serve to organise chromosomes and define cellular identity.