Alexandra Mireya Chávez Argandoña

PhD Student

© Alexandra Chávez

Plant Adaptation-in-action Group
Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity
Hüfferstr. 1
D-48149 Münster, Germany

Tel.: +49 251/83-21015

Nationality: Peruvian Pe


  • Since 2020:
    PhD studies in the Plant Adaptation-in-action Group, Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Münster, Germany
  • 2018 - 2020:
    Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Biology with Minor in Evolution, Universidad del Bío-Bío, Chillán, Chile
    Thesis: Were Camelids Carnivores in the Past? Approximation from Genes of the Insulin Signalling Pathway and the Sweet/Umami Taste Receptors.
  • 2012-2016:
    Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Biology (5-year degree) with Specialisation in Ecology and Molecular Biology, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru
    Thesis: Evaluation of the habitat and seasonality over the diet of the Andean Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) in the district of Corosha, Department of Amazonas


  • Prof. Dr. Shuqing Xu, Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Münster
  • Dr. Meret Huber, Institute for Plant Biology and Plant Biotechnology, University of Münster
  • Prof. Dr. Iris Finkemeier, Institute for Plant Biology and Plant Biotechnology, University of Münster
  • Prof. Dr. Jürgen Gadau, Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Münster

Research interests

  • Population genomics and evolution
  • Epigenetics
  • Environmental stressors in species evolution
  • Landscape genomics and genome association studies


  • Marín J, Rivera R, Varas V, Cortés J, Agapito A, Chero A, Chávez A, Johnson W, Orozco-terWengel P (2018) Genetic variation in coat colour genes MC1R and ASIP provides insights into domestication and management of South American camelids. Frontiers in Genetics 9:487. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2018.00487
  • Chávez AM, Díaz C, Amanzo JM (2018) Plants in the diet of the Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) in Corosha. Field guides The Field Museum 1(994): 6 pp. Link

PhD project description

Learning from past generations: Adaptive transgenerational plasticity in clonal plants

Species adaptation studies have mostly focused on variation patterns within nucleotides. However, not all adaptation marks would affect the DNA code, but rather modify its expression with mechanisms such as DNA methylation, non-coding small RNAs or histone modification. In plants, these epigenetic mechanisms have been observed affecting the fitness of offspring after parental expose to stress. These transgenerational mechanisms would be favoured in plants compared to animal cells, as epigenetic modifications in somatic cells would remain when they become gametes. In clonal plants, the epigenetic alterations would be evident in offspring after several generations. The common duckweed (Spirodela polyrhiza) is a clonal aquatic plant of fast reproduction (2-3 days), which has low worldwide genetic variation. However, differences in fitness (biomass volume and flavonoid concentration) have been observed in offspring of copper challenged parents, traits that remained for more than 5 generations in control medium. Thus, the aims of the project are to identify genes which expression is transgenerationally affected after parental stress conditions, to evaluate the variability in the transgenerational traits, considering more than 200 world-wide genotypes, and to analyse the effect that this possible variation in gene expression could have in the evolution of the duckweed. The project will reveal if environmental acquire traits are inherited over multiple generations, and thereby benefit offspring fitness. Therefore, it has the potential to establish a new concept in which long-term stress memory benefits offspring fitness under recurring stress conditions.