Vice Director – Valya Vassileva

Professor Valya Vassileva, PhD

Building 21
Office 222; Lab 107
Phone: +359-2-9792602; +359-2-979-2681

ORCID: 0000-0002-9055-8002
SCOPUS Author ID: 7004268419


Root development, epigenetic regulation of gene expression, DNA methylation, maintenance DNA methyltransferases, abiotic stress, model plants, hormone signalling, nuclear migration, cell cytoskeleton.


  • 1986, MSc, Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, Faculty of Biology, Sofia, Bulgaria.
  • 2000, PhD, Acad. M. Popov Institute of Plant Physiology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS), Sofia, Bulgaria.


  • 2018 – continuing: Deputy Director of the Institute of Plant Physiology and Genetics (IPPG), BAS, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • 2017 – continuing: Professor, IPPG-BAS
  • 2016 – continuing: Leader of the laboratory „Regulation of gene expression”, IPPG – BAS
  • 2011 – 2015: Leader of the Department of Plant Stress Molecular Biology, IPPG – BAS
  • 2010 – 2016: Associate Professor, IPPG – BAS
  • 2000 – 2009: Assistant Professor, Acad. M. Popov Institute of Plant Physiology – BAS
  • 1996 – 1999: PhD Student, Acad. M. Popov Institute of Plant Physiology – BAS
  • 1990 – 1995: Researcher, Acad. M. Popov Institute of Plant Physiology – BAS


  • Sept 2013 Sept 2015: Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship for career development (FP7-PEOPLE-2012-IEF), Epigenetics group of Prof. Peter Meyer, Centre for Plant Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom, project: Comparative analysis of plant and mammalian DNA methylation functions in epigenetic Arabidopsis mutants
  • May 2014: Staff and Departmental Developmental Unit (SDDU), University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom Project Leadership, Training in “Project Planning and Management: Essentials”
  • June 2009 – Oct 2009: Postdoctoral Grant from VIB/Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium, Host laboratory – Prof. Tom Beeckman.
  • Oct 2006 – Dec 2007: BELSPO Post-Doctoral Fellow, Plant Systems Biology Department, VIB/Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium, Host researcher – Prof. Tom Beeckman, Promotor – Prof. Dr. Dirk Inze, project: Functional and cytological changes associated with lateral root initiation in Arabidopsis
  • Apr 2002 – Apr 2004: JSPS Post-Doctoral Fellow, Biology Department, International Christian University (ICU), Tokyo, Japan, Host researcher – Prof. Robert Ridge.


2020 – 2024 COST action CA19125 “Epigenetic mechanisms of crop adaptation to climate change” (EPI-CATCH), COST action coordinator from Bulgaria, Leader of WG3
2019 – 2023 National Research Program „Environmental protection and reduction of the risk for adverse climate changes“, project coordinator from the Institute of Plant Physiology and Genetics
2017 – 2023 Research grant from National Science Fund (NSF), Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science (DН11/8): Small NudC proteins: effective regulators of development and stress tolerance of Arabidopsis thaliana, Project leader
2017 – 2021 COST action CA16212 – Impact of nuclear domains on gene expression and plant traits (INDEPTH), COST action coordinator from Bulgaria
2016 – 2022 Research grant from NSF-Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science (DН06/9): A comprehensive study on the signal mechanisms, guiding interactions between host plants, rhizosphere microbiota, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and root parasitic plants, Project participant
2016 – 2021 Research grant DН06/12 from NSF – Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science: Study on adaptive mechanisms to drought in Bulgarian winter wheat varieties, Project participant
2016 – 2018 Joint Research Project between the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), Belgium (VS.095.16N): Epigenetic control of Arabidopsis lateral root initiation and development: involvement of maintenance DNA methyltransferases, Project coordinator from BAS
2016 – 2017 Project under the program for Support of Young Scientists at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (DFNP-192): Arabidopsis thaliana as an experimental system for the study of DNA methylation mechanisms, Project supervisor
2016 – 2017 Project BG05M2OP001-2.002-0001, Studentski praktiki – Phase 1, Operational Programme “Science and Education for Smart Growth 2014-2020”, Student’s mentor
2012 – 2015 Project BG051PO001-3.3.06-0025, Bulgaria’s Human Resources Development operational programme ” Support for training and development of young competitive experts in the field of physiology, phytochemistry, genomics, proteomics and biodiversity of eukaryotic organisms”, Lecturer and mentor
2013 – 2015 Project 326711 Marie Curie FP7-PEOPLE-2012-IEF “Comparative analysis of plant and mammalian DNA methylation functions in epigenetic Arabidopsis mutants (CAPMEM)”, Host laboratory – Epigenetics (Prof. Peter Meyer), University of Leeds, Leeds, UK, Leading researcher
2010 – 2013 Joint Research Project between the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), Belgium (VS.035.10N): Finding novel components of nuclear migration and their impact on lateral root initiation in Arabidopsis, Project coordinator from BAS
2009 – 2013 Research grant from NSF-Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science, Expert panel IDEAS, Do 02-268/08: Integrated functional and comparative genomics studies on the model legumes Medicago truncatula and Lotus japonicus, Project coordinator from IPPG


  • Marie Curie Alumni Association – Bulgaria Chapter
  • Union of Scientists in Bulgaria, Subdivision of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry
  • Federation of European Societies of Plant Biology (FESPB)


Velinov V, Georgieva M, Zehirov G, Vassileva V. 2021. NudC-like genes contribute to root growth and branching in Arabidopsis thaliana. C. R. Acad. Bulg. Sci., 74, 12, 1767-1773

Vaseva II, Simova-Stoilova L, Kirova E, Mishev K, Depaepe T, Van Der Straeten D, Vassileva V. 2021. Ethylene signaling in salt-stressed Arabidopsis thaliana ein2-1 and ctr1-1 mutants – A dissection of molecular mechanisms involved in acclimation. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, 167, 999-1010

Georgieva M, Bonchev G, Zehirov G, Vasileva V, Vassileva V. 2021. Neonicotinoid insecticides exert diverse cytotoxic and genotoxic effects on cultivated sunflower. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 28, 53193-5320

Vaseva II, Mishev K, Depaepe T, Vassileva V, Van Der Straeten D. 2021. The diverse salt-stress response of Arabidopsis ctr1-1 and ein2-1 ethylene signaling mutants is linked to altered root auxin homeostasis. Plants, 10, 3, 452

Kakoulidou I, Avramidou EV, Baránek M, Brunel-Muguet S, Farrona S, Johannes F, Kaiserli E, Lieberman-Lazarovich M, Martinelli F, Mladenov V, Testillano PS, Vassileva V, Maury S. 2021. Epigenetics for crop improvement in times of global change. Biology, 10, 8, 766

Mladenov V, Fotopoulos V, Kaiserli E, Karalija E, Maury S, Baranek M, Segal N, Testillano PS, Vassileva V, Pinto G, Nagel M, Hoenicka H, Miladinović D, Gallusci P, Vergata C, Kapazoglou A, Abraham E, Tani E, Gerakari M, Sarri E, Avramidou Е, Gašparović M, Martinelli F. 2021. Deciphering the epigenetic alphabet involved in transgenerational stress memory in crops. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22, 13, 7118

Agayn-Stoyanova N, Vassilevska-Ivanova R, Zehirov G, Vassileva V, Kaya Y. 2021. Evaluation of antioxidant capacity and flavonoid content in annual and perennial wild Helianthus species. Proceedings of III. Balkan Agricultural Congress, 1073-1078, Trakya University Publisher.

Velinov V, Vaseva I, Zehirov G, Zhiponova M, Georgieva M, Vangheluwe N, Beeckman T, Vassileva V. 2020. Overexpression of the NMig1 gene encoding a NudC domain protein enhances root growth and abiotic stress tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana. Frontiers in Plant Science, 11, 815

Vassileva V, Vaseva I, Dimitrova A. 2019. Expression profiling of DNA methyltransferase genes in wheat genotypes with contrasting drought tolerance. Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science, 25, 5, 845-851

Vassileva V, Moyankova D, Dimitrova A, Mladenov P, Djilianov D. 2018. Assessment of leaf micromorphology after full desiccation of resurrection plants. Plant Biosystems, 153, 1, 108-117

Feller U, Kopriva S, Vassileva V. 2018. Plant nutrient dynamics in stressful environments: Needs interfere with burdens. Agriculture, 8, 7, 1-6

Boycheva I, Vassileva V, Revalska M, Zehirov G, Iantcheva A. 2017. Role of the histone acetyltransferase HAC1 gene in development of the model species Medicago truncatula, Lotus japonicus and Arabidopsis thaliana. Protoplasma, 254, 2, 697-711

Vassileva V, Hollwey E, Todorov D, Meyer P. 2016. Leaf epidermal profiling as a phenotyping tool for DNA methylation mutants. Genetics and Plant Physiology, 6, 1-2, 3-13

Simova-Stoilova L, Vassileva V, Feller U. 2016. Selection and breeding of suitable crop genotypes for drought and heat periods in a changing climate: Which morphological and physiological properties should be considered? Agriculture (Switzerland), 6, 2, 26

Revalska M, Vassileva V, Zehirov G, Iantcheva A. 2016. Analysing the function and the expression pattern of auxin response factor B3 from Medicago truncatula in the model plant Lotus japonicus. Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science, 22, 253-261

Iantcheva A, Revalska M, Zehirov G, Boicheva I, Radkova M, Ratet P, Vassileva V. 2016. Tnt1 retrotransposon as an efficient tool for development of an insertional mutant collection of Lotus japonicus. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology – Plant , 52, 338-347

Boycheva I, Vassileva V, Revalska M, Zehirov G, Iantcheva A. 2015. Cyclin-like F-box protein plays a role in growth and development of the three model species Medicago truncatula, Lotus japonicus and Arabidopsis thaliana. Research and Reports in Biology, 6, 117-130

Chen Q, Liu Y, Maere S, Lee E, Van Isterdael G, Xie Z, Xuan W, Lucas J, Vassileva V, Kitakura S, Marhavý P еt al. 2015. A coherent transcriptional feed-forward motif model for mediating auxin-sensitive PIN3 expression during lateral root development. Nature Communications, 6, 8821

Revalska M, Vassileva V, Zehirov G, Iantcheva I. 2015. Is the auxin influx carrier LAX3 essential for plant growth and development in the model plants Medicago truncatula, Lotus japonicus and Arabidopsis thaliana? Biotechnology & Biotechnological Equipment, 29, 786-797

Fernandez A, Drozdzecki A, Hoogewijs K, Vassileva V, Madder A, Beeckman T, Hilson P. 2015. The GLV6/RGF8/CLEL2 peptide regulates early pericycle divisions during lateral root initiation. J. Exp. Bot., 17, 5245-5256

Boycheva I, Vassileva V, Iantcheva A. 2014. Histone acetyltransferases in plant development and plasticity. Current Genomics, 15, 28-37

Iantcheva A, Revalska M, Zehirov G, Vassileva V. 2014. Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of Medicago truncatula cell suspension culture provides a system for functional analysis. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology-Plant 50, 149-157

Grigorova B, Vassileva V, Klimchuk D, Vaseva I, Demirevska K, Feller U. 2012. Drought, high temperature and their combination affect ultrastructure of chloroplasts and mitochondria in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) leaves. J. Plant Interact, 7, 204-213

Vassileva V, Demirevska K, Simova-Stoilova L, Petrova T, Tsenov N, Feller U. 2012. Long-term field drought affects leaf protein pattern and chloroplast ultrastructure of winter wheat in a cultivar specific manner. J. Agron. Crop Sci., 198, 104-117

Vassileva V, Signarbieux C, Anders I, Feller U. 2011. Genotypic variation in drought stress response and subsequent recovery of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). J. Plant Research, 124, 147-154

Berckmans B, Vassileva V, Schmid S, Maes S, Parizot B, Naramoto S, Magyar Z, Kamei CLA, Koncz C, Persiau G, De Jaeger G, Bogre L, Friml J, Simon R, Beeckman T, De Veylder L. 2011. Auxin-dependent cell cycle reactivation through transcriptional control of E2Fa by LATERAL ORGAN BOUNDARY proteins. Plant Cell, 23, 3671-3683

De Rybel B, Vassileva V, Parizot B, Demeulenaere M, Grunewald W, Audenaert D, Van Campenhout J, Overvoorde P, Jansen L, Vanneste S, Möller B, Holman T, Van Isterdaele G, Brunoud G, Vuylsteke M, Vernoux T, De Veylder L, Inzé D, Weijers D, Bennett M, Beeckman T. 2010. A novel Aux/IAA28 signalling cascade activates GATA23-dependent specification of lateral root founder cell identity. Current Biology, 20, 1697-1706

De Smet I, Lau S, Voss U, Vanneste S, Benjamins R, Rademacher E, Schlereth A, De Rybel B, Vassileva V, Grunewald W, Naudts M, Levesque M, Ehrismann J, Inzé D, Luschnig C, Benfey P, Weijers D, van Montagu M, Bennett M, Jürgens G, Beeckman T. 2010. Bimodular auxin response controls organogenesis in Arabidopsis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 107, 2705-2710

Vassileva V, Zehirov G, Ugrinova M, Iantcheva A. 2010. Variable leaf epidermal morphology in Tnt1 insertional mutants of the model legume Medicago truncatula. Biotechnology & Biotechnological Equipment, 24, 2060-2065

Vassileva V, Simova-Stoilova L, Demirevska K, Feller U. 2009. Variety-specific response of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) leaf mitochondria to drought stress. J. Plant Research, 122, 445-454

De Smet I*, Vassileva V*, De Rybel B, Levesque MP, Grunewald W, Van Damme D, Van Noorden G, Naudts M, Van Isterdael G, De Clercq R, Wang JY, Meuli N, Vanneste S, Friml J, Hilson P, Jürgens G, Ingram GC, Inzé D, Benfey PN, Beeckman T. 2008. Receptor-like kinase ACR4 restricts stem cell divisions in the Arabidopsis root. Science, 322, 594-597, *споделен първи автор

Vassileva VN, Fujii Y, Ridge RW. 2005. Microtubule dynamics in plants. Plant Biotechnology, 22, 171-178

Vassileva VN, Kouchi H, Ridge RW. 2005. Microtubule dynamics in living root hairs: transient slowing by lipochitin oligosaccharide nodulation signals. Plant Cell, 17, 1777-1787

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