Lai Ka Lo

PhD Student



Animal Evolutionary Ecology
Institute for Evolution & Biodiversity
University of Münster
Hüfferstr. 1
48149 Münster, Germany
Tel.: +49 251/83-21036

Nationality: Chinese



  • Since 2018:
    PhD in the Institute for Evolution & Biodiversity, University of Münster, DE
  • 2016 - 2017:
    Master of Science (M. Sc.) in Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology, University of Exeter (Penryn Campus), UK
  • 2015 - 2016:
    Bachelor of Science (B. Sc. Hons) in Biotechnology, Ulster University (Coleraine Campus), UK

Work Experience

  • 2016 - 2017:
    Research Assistant, Lab of Prof. Dr. Alastair Wilson, Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter (Penryn Campus), UK
  • 2016:
    Research Assistant, The Swire Institute of Marine Science, The University of Hong Kong (HKU), CN
  • 2014:
    Research Assistant, Lab of Prof. Dr. Jerome Hui, State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), CN


  • Prof. Dr. Joachim Kurtz, Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Münster, DE
  • Prof. Dr. Caroline Müller, Department of Chemical Ecology, Bielefeld University, DE
  • Prof. Dr. Martin Kaltenpoth, Evolutionary Ecology, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, DE

Research interests

  • tba

PhD project description

Niche construction in the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum

Background: Quinone secretion as external immune defence of red flour beetle modulatesthe microbiota in their niche, i.e. their surrounding flour. This constructed microbial niche that is passed on to the offspring leads to niche-mediated selection.

Aim:  With an aim to explore the fitness consequences of niche construction and its role for evolution, we will exploit experimental evolution to elucidate how individual immune experiences affect niche construction of the group of beetles and measure evolutionary fitness proxies under niche match-mismatch

Significance: This project can help establish niche construction theory in addition to current evolutionary theory.

Approaches: UV spectrophotometer plate reader assay and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry will be used for quantification of quinone secretions. In parallel, we will monitor individual or surrounding microbiota (i.e. bacterial load and taxa composition) using 16S rRNA sequencing. Further, RNAi approach and mutated lines will be employed to test whether niche construction ability enhances evolvability.

Expected outcomes: It is expected that the introduction of wounded or immune primed focal would enhance quinone production so as the degree of niche construction, and nonmatching niche will reduce beetles’ fitness.


  • Lo LK, R R, Tewes LJ, Milutinović B, Müller C, Kurtz J (2023) Immune stimulation via wounding alters chemical profiles of adult Tribolium castaneumJournal of Chemical Ecology 49: 46-58. 10.1007/s10886-022-01395-x [doi]

  • Schulz N, Mohamed FF, Lo LK, Peuß R, de Buhr MF, Kurtz J (2022) Paternal knockdown of tRNA (cytosine-5-)-methyltransferase (Dnmt2) increases offspring susceptibility to infection in red flour beetles. Insect Molecular Biology. 10.1111/imb.12798 [doi]

  • Giglio A, Vommaro ML, Agostino RG, Lo LK, Donato S (2022) Exploring compound eyes in adults of four coleopteran species using synchrotron X-ray phase-contrast microtomography (SR-PhC Micro-CT). Life 12(5): 741. 10.3390/life12050741 [doi]

  • Korša A, Lo LK, Gandhi S, Bang C, Kurtz J (2022) Oral immune priming treatment alters microbiome composition in the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum. Frontiers in Microbiology 13: 793143. 10.3389/fmicb.2022.793143 [doi]
  • Zanchi C, Lo LK, R R, Moritz I, Kurtz J, Müller C (2021) Survival of the sawfly Athalia rosae upon infection by an entomopathogenic fungus and in relation to clerodanoid uptake. Frontiers in Physiology 12: 637617. 10.3389/fphys.2021.637617 [doi]
  • Vos M, Sibleyras L, Lo LK, Hesse E, Gaze W, Klümper U (2020) Zinc can counteract selection for ciprofloxacin resistance. FEMS Microbiology Letters 367(3): fnaa038. 10.1093/femsle/fnaa038 [doi]