• 2020


    © WWU

    The worldwide day of action on 25 November recalls the high level of violence against women. The Federal Minister for Women's Affairs, Dr. Franziska Giffey, is calling for the help line to be made public on this day to show those affected a way out of violence.
    The University of Münster is again participating in this campaign this year. In a large photo campaign, numerous departments and central units have clearly positioned themselves against violence against women.

    You can find more information here

    Der weltweite Aktionstag am 25. November erinnert an das hohe Ausmaß von Gewalt gegen Frauen. Bundesfrauenministerin Dr. Franziska Giffey ruft dazu auf, anlässlich dieses Tages das Hilfetelefon bekanntzumachen und so Betroffenen einen Ausweg aus der Gewalt zu zeigen.
    Die Universität Münster wirkt auch in diesem Jahr wieder an dieser Aktion mit. In einer großen Fotoaktion haben sich zahlreiche Fachbereiche und zentrale Einheiten deutlich gegen Gewalt an Frauen positioniert.

    Mehr informationen finden Sie hier

    Job Announcement

    Hiring-3531130 1920
    © Mohammed Hassan

    The Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity (IEB) in the Facultyof Biology at the University of Münster, Germany, is seeking to fill apermanent position for a Scientific Staff
    (einer Studienrätin/eines Studienrates im Hochschuldienst), Salary Level A13, 100%

    The teaching obligation associated with this position is 13-17 (hours of instruction per weekduring semester), depending on the other general tasks assigned to the position. The weekly working time is currently 41 hours. The primarily obligations associated with the position involve teaching in the area of Zoology and Evolutionary Biology, in particular organizing and running modules for the Bachelor of Biology, Master’s of Science and Master’s of Education in German and English. The successful candidate will also be heavily involved in the statistical education of bachelor, master’s and doctoral students in the Faculty of Biology. They will also take over general tasks at the IEB according to her/his past experience. In addition to teaching, the candidate is encouraged to develop their own research program in collaboration with colleagues at the IEB and Faculty of Biology and acquire third party funding. Requirements for this position are a university degree and a doctoral degree in biology, physics, chemistry or mathematics, as well as comprehensive experience in theoretical evolutionary biology (e.g. statistical methods, modelling, etc.). To be eligible for “Beamtenverhältnis”(German civil servant status) according to § 45 LVO, the candidate needs to be able to prove employment for 3 years and 6 months after finishing her/his university degree or for 1 year after completing a doctoral degree. If the requirements are not yet fulfilled, the candidate can instead be employed as a public servant (TV-L E13) and change to the status of “Beamtenverhältnis”at a later stage. If the employee does not fulfill the requirements for a “Beamtenverhältnis” she/he can be permanently employed as a public servant (TV-L E13).
    The University of Münster is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to increasing the proportion of women academics. Consequently, we actively encourage applications by women. Female candidates with equivalent qualifications and academic achievements will be preferentially considered within the framework of the legal possibilities. The University of Münster is committed to employing more staff with disabilities. Candidates with recognised severe disabilities who have equivalent qualifications are given preference in hiring decisions.

    Applications including a CV, certificates of university and doctoral degrees, and details of teaching experience and publications should be sent by email as a single PDF file to by 1 September 2020.

    For the original job announcement in German please click here

    Tze Hann Ng of AG Kurtz featured on WWU main page

    © WWU - Peter Leßmann

    Tiny animals with surprising characteristics

    Biologist Tze Hann Ng studies how copepods react to parasites.
    For more than a year now, at the University of Münster, she has been studying the mechanisms of the immune system of these tiny animals. Even before she came to Germany on a fellowship from the Humboldt Foundation, she was interested in aquatic creatures while working in her previous lab in Taiwan – although there she examined the larger “siblings”, shrimps and crayfish.

    Original article in the University newspaper wissen|leben  (in German)
    Online article on WWU news page

    Humboldt Fellowship for Dr. Anna Grandchamp

    Annag _2_
    © Anna Grandchamp

    Since several years it is known that new proteins not only arise via gene duplication and variation of the duplicates but also de novo, i.e. from previously non-coding DNA.
    An important first step in the creation of these de novo genes is that some of the zillions of randomly generated transcripts have some, though very weak, inherent function or are at least not toxic to the cell and are not quickly lost again.
    In her project, Dr. Grandchamp will investigate how often new random transcripts are created, by which mechanisms they are created and what the initial function of the new proteins might be.
    She plans to use in-bred lines of fly populations collected from all over Europe as well as of closely related fly species and map their transcriptomes onto the newly sequenced genomes to precisely characterise the creation and loss of de novo genes.

    For Anna Grandchamp's homepage click here
    For more information on the Humboldt Fellowship click here

    SAFIR research funding for two IEB students

    Safir News
    © Aileen Seipelt

    Marek Golian and Nicolas Schröder successfully applied for SAFIR student research grants allowing them to pursue their own long-term research projects.
    Marek will investigate the impact of surface microbes on the chemical profile of the parasitoid wasp Nasonia, while Nicolas will conduct phylogenetic and comparative genomic analyses to study the evolution of host-beneficial microbes in insects.

    New study by AG Kurtz members Robert Peuß and Jörn Scharsack featured on WWU cover page

    © Stowers Institute for Medical Research

    Cavefish have fewer cells of the innate immune system

    Cavefish are small, live in tucked away places humans rarely go, and they’re common enough that you can find them on every continent except Antarctica. But they also have another characteristic that seems surprising at first glance: They can tell researchers something about the occurrence of autoimmune diseases in humans. Because similar to people, cavefish live in an environment with a reduced number of parasites. Unlike people, however, cavefish have had much more time – about 150,000 years – to adapt to these conditions. To learn more about how a low-parasite environment may shape the evolution of a host’s immune system, an international team of researchers led by the Stowers Institute for Medical Research examined the impact of decreased parasite abundance and infection on the evolution of the cavefish immune system.

    The scientists under participation of Dr. Robert Peuß and Dr. Jörn P. Scharsack from the Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity characterized the cavefish immune system and how it responds to threats, compared to that of closely-related river fish from a parasite-rich environment. Their findings show that cavefish differ in their sensitivity toward immune stimulants and have a different composition of immune cells, including a reduction of cells of the innate immune system that play a role in inflammation.

    In future studies, the scientists hope to identify genetic factors involved in cavefish immune system evolution. This research could provide clues about the development of immune system disorders and potentially human autoimmune diseases, where the immune system attacks its own body. The study has been published in the journal “Nature Ecology & Evolution”.

    For the WWU press release, please click here

    For the original article, please click here.

    Peuß et al. (2020): Adaptation to low parasite abundance affects immune investment and immunopathological responses of cavefish. Nature Ecology & Evolution; DOI: 10.1038/s41559-020-1234-2

    New study by the group of Jürgen Gadau on functional insights from genomes of two aphid parasitoids

    Paper News Agg 10 06 20
    © Dennis et al. /BMC Genomics


    Parasitoid wasps have fascinating life cycles and play an important role in trophic networks, yet little is known about their genome content and function. Parasitoids that infect aphids are an important group with the potential for biocontrol. Their success depends on adapting to develop inside aphids and overcoming both host aphid defenses and their protective endosymbionts.

    We present the de novo genome assemblies, detailed annotation, and comparative analysis of two closely related parasitoid wasps that target pest aphids: Aphidius ervi and Lysiphlebus fabarum (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Aphidiinae). The genomes are small (139 and 141 Mbp), highly syntenic, and the most AT-rich reported thus far for any arthropod (GC content: 25.8% and 23.8%). This nucleotide bias is accompanied by skewed codon usage and is stronger in genes with adult-biased expression. AT-richness may be the consequence of reduced genome size, a near absence of DNA methylation, and energy efficiency. We identify missing desaturase genes, whose absence may underlie mimicry in the cuticular hydrocarbon profile of L. fabarum. We also find that absence of some immune genes (Toll and Imd pathways) resembles similar losses in their aphid hosts, highlighting the potential impact of symbiosis on both aphids and their parasitoids.

    These findings are of fundamental interest for insect evolution and beyond. This will provide a strong foundation for further functional studies including coevolution with respect to their hosts, the basis of successful infection, and biocontrol. Both genomes are available at

    For the full paper, please click here.

    Dennis, A.B., Ballesteros, G.I., Robin, S. et al. Functional insights from the GC-poor genomes of two aphid parasitoids, Aphidius ervi and Lysiphlebus fabarum. BMC Genomics 21, 376 (2020).

    Software development to facilitate reproducible research

    Ben Stoever
    © privat

    At a workshop orginized by the WWU "Opening Reproducible Research" (o2r) team the Evolution and Biodiversity of Plants group presented how software components can help to improve reproducibility of scientific workflows.

    Here is an excerpt of an article by Dr. Ben Stöver, research group Evolution and Biodiversity of Plants (Prof. Dr. Kai Müller)

    The annotation of scientific data with metadata documenting how raw data was generated and which analysis steps lead to derived data, offers an efficient way to improve the reproducibility of scientific studies. Phylogenetic trees (representing evolutionary relationships, e.g., between species) – as an example – are often inferred from DNA sequences of different species, which in turn were sequenced from tissue samples from specimens (e.g., collected plants). Ideally, a published phylogenetic tree would contain metadata that links a specific archived specimen for each species and the sequence generated from it, as well as metadata to document the analysis steps and the software used to reconstruct the tree. This principle of annotation can also be applied to other data types and can therefore be used in many areas of science.

    Although file formats (e.g., NeXML) that enable appropriate annotation of trees and other phylogenetic data were developed years ago, they are still used relatively little compared to older formats that do not allow this. To change this, we at the group for Plant Evolution and Biodiversity (Prof. Dr. Kai Müller) are developing a number of different software components that make it as easy as possible for scientists to use the new file formats and the necessary annotation. At the same time, the interoperability with existing analysis software is ensured, even if it does not yet support the corresponding formats itself. Specifically, we develop graphical editors for biologists to easily process and annotate the main data types of phylogenetics, as well as, software libraries for easy reuse in other bioinformatics software. Our software is freely available at

    See the full article here:

    Evolution of an adaptive and novel floral volatile

    Many flowering plants produce highly diverse and specific floral scents that are important for mediating interactions with their pollinators and/or herbivores. The well-known fitness effects and extraordinary diversity of floral scents provide an excellent system for studying the evolution of novel adaptive traits in plants. However, very few studies have revealed how plants evolve new floral scents.

    In this study, a group of scientists from Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology and University of Münster uncovered the biosynthetic machinery and evolution of a species-specific nocturnal floral volatile of a wild tobacco (Nicotiana attenuata): benzyl acetone (BA), a compound that mediates both pollinator attraction and florivore deterrence. They demonstrated that three genes, NaPAL4, NaIFR3, and NaCHAL3 are sufficient and necessary for the BA biosynthesis in N. attenuata. They also found that while independent changes in transcription in all three genes contributed to intraspecific variations of floral BA emission, the gain of expression of NaIFR3 resulted in the biosynthesis of BA, which was only found in N. attenuata. Because NaIFR3 evolved from a gene duplication that occurred earlier than the diversification of Nicotiana, this study provided an example that novel metabolic pathways can arise via altering the expression of existing genes.

    The study not only revealed how novel adaptive traits have been evolved, but also shows different genetic mechanisms are involved in intra- and interspecific variations of adaptive traits. Scientists found that while all three biosynthetic genes contributed to the intraspecific variations of floral BA emission, only the expression changes in NaIFR3 contributed to differences in floral BA emission among closely related species. The results indicate that adaptive traits might evolve differently between and within species.

    The study showed that a new metabolic pathway can arise via expression changes in a single gene. Such mechanism might not only explain the evolution of amazing diversity of specialized metabolites in plants, but also demonstrated the potential of using metabolic engineering in crop development and protection.

    Original Publication:

    Han Guo, Nathalie D Lackus, Tobias G Köllner, Ran Li, Julia Bing, Yangzi Wang, Ian T Baldwin, Shuqing Xu, Evolution of a Novel and Adaptive Floral Scent in Wild Tobacco, Molecular Biology and Evolution, , msz292,

  • 2019

    Conference on Freshwater Sciences, 23.-27. September, 2019

    Daphnia Pulex
    © Bettina Zeis

    The German Limnological Society in cooperation with the WWU Münster invites to the freshwater conference wasser.leben.zukunft (, taking place from 23rd-27th September 2019 at the University of Münster. Conference venue is the Fürstenberghaus. According to the motto participants will discuss current findings and future topics and global challenges we face in the field of freshwater sciences, spanning from classical limnology, organismic biology, and ecosystem ecology to innovative approaches in fundamental and applied science, accompagnied by best practice examples. Focal areas of talks and poster sessions are, among others, consequences of climate change, conservation and managing of freshwater ecosystems and biota, aquatic biodiversity, multiple stressors including neobiota, and aquatic ecotoxicology. Science communication and knowledge transfer are addressed as well. Conference language is German, yet a whole session („Zooplankton meets environmental challenges: insights from Daphnia) and various talks and posters are in English.
    The side programme comprises a public evening lecture (Sept. 23th: „Climate under change !? - Satellite images show the global change“), a microscopy workshop („Leben im Aasee“) organized by Msc. Biosciences-students, a Pubquiz Special around limnological topics, organized by the Fachschaft Biologie, and various excursions in the Münsterland region at Friday, 27th. As a novelty, two Master students will maintain a Blog with daily reports, fotos etc. about the conference.

    Conference homepage

    Raising future scientists

    M _rzh _user Schule 2
    © Jenny Märzhäuser

    In May 2019 the Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity contributed to a climate change project with the Montessori-Schule Münster e.V.. Together with the teachers Msc. student Jenny Märzhäuser of the Molecular Evolution and Sociobiology group of Prof. Jürgen Gadau organized a project concerning climate change for the older school classes as part of a research module. Therefore, differing topics on the terms climate und man-made climate change had to be worked out in groups and presented in various self-chosen ways. The students developed posters, flyers, presentations, short movies, games and even a fuel cell model car. They presented their several week-long work to the younger classes, which were eager to ask their prepared research questions about climate change. Young and old became very impressed by the importance of manmade climate change for our future and our environment through this exciting day.

    Dr. Susann Wicke receives young talent award

    The University Society Münster has honored the outstanding research achievements of two young scientists of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (WWU): In a ceremony the physician Prof. Dr.  Maged Alnawaiseh and biologist Dr. Susann Wicke received this years award for the promotion of young scientists. The awards are endowed with 5,000 euros each provided by the University of Münster.

    Full article

    Get animal researchers as experts in schools, clubs or groups

    Biologists start the program "e-vite a prof!" at the University of Münster

    How do animals think and feel? Are there pessimists and optimists among them? How does the environment affect their well-being? Animal researchers investigate all this at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (WWU). If you want to learn more about these and other exciting topics, you do not have to go on nature trips or to the lab. With the new program "e-vite a prof!" ("Invite a Professor") scientists of our department will now come to all interested parties and talk about their research results - in schools, clubs or in other groups.

    Full article

    Frontiers in Plant Science published a new study from Shuqing Xu’s group

    Machine Learning
    © Shuqing Xu

    Frontiers in Plant Science published a new study from Shuqing Xu’s group entitled: Evolution of alternative splicing in Eudicots. Using a machine learning approach, the authors uncovered the underlying mechanisms that contributed to the differences of alternative splicing among species.

    Original publication:
    Ling, Z., Brockmöller, T., Baldwin, I. T. & Xu, S. (2019). Evolution of alternative splicing in eudicots. Frontiers in Plant Science, 10, 707.; DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00707

    New publication on sexual conflict out in PNAS

    Members of the Fricke Group co-authored study on male manipulation of female postmating responses
    © Mareike Koppik

    In species with males and females, reproduction requires contributions from both sexes and therefore some degree of cooperation. At the same time, antagonistic interactions in reproduction (sexual conflict) can evolve because males and females take different routes to maximise their reproductive output, i.e. their fitness. Claudia Fricke, Mareike Koppik, Kristina Wensing, and Hanna Ruhmann from the Evolution and Sexual Conflict Group, together with colleagues from Lausanne, now published a study in PNAS showing that sexual conflict shapes the female post-mating response and the male molecules eliciting this response in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.
    Combining insights from gene expression as well as behavioural and morphological data the authors showed that enforcing randomized monogamy, thereby eliminating sexual conflict, led to reduced manipulation of females by males. This pattern was visible in both the timing of female reproductive effort and gene expression changes after mating. Male investment in expression of genes encoding seminal fluid proteins, which shape the female postmating response and have been proposed to be mediators of sexual conflict, declined concurrently. These results confirm the presence of sexually antagonistic selection on post-copulatory interactions that can be reversed by monogamy.

    To read the full article on the publication follow this link to the main page of the university.

    Original publication:
    Hollis B, Koppik M, Wensing KU, Ruhmann H, Genzoni E, Erkosar B, Kawecki TJ, Fricke C & Keller L (2019) Sexual conflict drives male manipulation of female postmating responses in Drosophila melanogaster. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA doi: 10.1073/pnas.1821386116

    Further information
    Evolution and Sexual Conflict Group

    Duckweed: The low-down on a tiny plant

    Low mutation rates contribute to low genetic diversity in duckweeds / Study in "Nature Communications"
    Entengr _tze _klaus J.jpeg
    © Klaus J. Appenroth

    Duckweeds – for many aquatic animals like ducks and snails, a treat, but for pond owners, sometimes a thorn in the side. The tiny and fast-growing plants are of great interest to researchers, and not at least because of their industrial applications – for example, to purify wastewater or generate energy. An international research team from Münster, Jena (both Germany), Zurich (Switzerland) and Kerala (India) have recently studied the genomics of the giant duckweed. They discovered that genetic diversity, i.e. the total number of genetic characteristics that are different among individuals, is very low. “This is remarkable given that their population size is very large – there can, for example, be millions of individuals in a single pond”, says Shuqing Xu, professor for plant evolutionary ecology at the University of Münster and lead author of the study.

    To read the full article on the publication follow this link to the main page of the university.

    Original publication:
    S. Xu et al. (2019): Low genetic variation is associated with low mutation rate in the giant duckweed. Nature Communications; DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09235-5

    Further information
    Original publication in "Nature Communications"
    Plant Adaptation-in-action Group at Münster University
    Emerging field “Evolution” at Münster University

    Science Pub was held by Joachim Kurtz on host-parasite coevolution

    The Science Pub is a well established series of lectures in a relaxed atmosphere. On Monday, 18.02.2019, the latest event took place at Ratskeller in Münster. This was the first Science Pub after the death of Hans-Dieter Görtz who initiated this lecture series. Prof. Dr. Joachim Kurtz was honoured to talk about parasites and their hosts, examining their coevolution. To read a full article on the event written by the Westfälische Nachrichten follow this link.

    New study by Eriksson and Gadau

    © Ti Eriksson

    Ti Eriksson and Jürgen Gadau co-authored a new study titled: "Intraspecifc variation in colony founding behavior and social organization in the honey ant Myrmecocystus mendax"

    "Persistent cooperation between unrelated queens, a phenomenon termed primary polygyny, is rarely found in mature ant societies. In this article we present evidence that primary polygyny occurs in some populations of the desert honey ant Myrmecocystus mendax. Using genetic markers, we found that all mature colonies sampled in a population in the Sierra Ancha Mountains of central Arizona (USA) had multiple queens with a relatively high queen number, while the majority of mature colonies sampled in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona each had a single queen. Field and laboratory observations showed that Chiricahua queens found new colonies alone, whereas Sierra Ancha foundresses can also cooperate to initiate a new colony. Nestmate relatedness of mature Sierra Ancha field colonies was consistent with primary polygyny. In the laboratory, Sierra Ancha foundresses cooperatively established incipient colonies without conflict, and colonies with multiple queens produced more workers and repletes (honeypots) than single-queen colonies. This was in stark contrast to foundresses from the Chiricahua population, which showed strong aggression when artificially forced to found colonies together. When brood raiding was experimentally induced between laboratory Sierra Ancha colonies, queens from colonies with more workers had a higher survival probability, although in some cases the competing colonies fused and queens from both colonies continued to reproduce. Fusion between incipient ant colonies is a rare phenomenon, but could contribute to the high frequency of polygyny and high queen number in mature colonies in the Sierra Ancha population."

    For the full paper click here.

  • 2018

    Internationaler Tag gegen Gewalt an Frauen: "Wir brechen das Schweigen"

    © WWU

    Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

    der weltweite Aktionstag am 25. November erinnert an das hohe Ausmaß von Gewalt gegen Frauen. Bundesfrauenministerin Dr. Franziska Giffey ruft dazu auf, anlässlich dieses Tages das Hilfetelefon bekanntzumachen und so Betroffenen einen Ausweg aus der Gewalt zu zeigen.
    Die Universität Münster wirkt auch in diesem Jahr wieder an dieser Aktion mit. In einer großen Fotoaktion haben sich zahlreiche Fachbereiche und zentrale Einheiten deutlich gegen Gewalt an Frauen positioniert.

    Mehr informatinen finden Sie hier und hier.

    © Schmitz et al.

    Jonathan Schmitz and Prof. Erich Bornberg-Bauer from the Molecular Evolution & Bioinformatics goup at the IEB published a new paper titled "Incipient de novo genes can evolve from frozen accidents which escaped rapid transcript turnover" in Nature Ecology and Evolution.

    Here is the abstract of the publication:
    "A recent surge of studies have suggested that many novel genes arise de novo from previously noncoding DNA and not by duplication. However, most studies concentrated on longer evolutionary time scales and rarely considered protein structural properties. Therefore, it remains unclear how these properties are shaped by evolution, depend on genetic mechanisms and influence gene survival. Here we compare open reading frames (ORFs) from high coverage transcriptomes from mouse and another four mammals covering 160 million years of evolution. We find that novel ORFs pervasively emerge from noncoding regions but are rapidly lost again, while relatively fewer arise from the divergence of coding sequences but are retained much longer. We also find that a subset (14%) of the mouse-specific ORFs bind ribosomes and are potentially translated, showing that such ORFs can be the starting points of gene emergence. Surprisingly, disorder and other protein properties of young ORFs hardly change with gene age in short time frames. Only length and nucleotide composition change significantly. Thus, some transcribed de novo genes resemble ‘frozen accidents’ of randomly emerged ORFs that survived initial purging. This perspective complies with very recent studies indicating that some neutrally evolving transcripts containing random protein sequences may be translated and be viable starting points of de novo gene emergence."


    Jonathan F. Schmitz, Kristian K. Ullrich and Erich Bornberg-Bauer (2018): Incipient de novo genes can evolve from frozen accidents which escaped rapid transcript turnover. Nature Ecology and Evolution; Published: 10 September 2018, DOI: 10.1038/s41559-018-0639-7.

    Jahrestagung 2018 der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Limnologie e. V.

    Die Hochschule Rhein-Waal (HSRW) und die Deutsche Gesellschaft für Limnologie (DGL) freuen sich, Sie zur 34. Jahrestagung der DGL an den Niederrhein einladen zu dürfen. Die diesjährige Jahrestagung wird am 10.–14. September 2018 am Campus Kamp-Lintfort (Kreis Wesel) der Hochschule Niederrhein stattfinden.

    Unter dem Motto „Limnologie am Niederrhein: Wissen, Wirtschaft, Wege und Wildnis“ wollen wir uns besonders den vielfältigen Nutzungen der Gewässer und ihres Umfeldes annehmen, die zugleich Belastungen wie Chancen für ihre Entwicklung sein können.

    Mehr Informationen gibt es auf der offiziellen Veranstaltungsseite.

    New paper by Bernadou et al.

    © Bernadou et al.

    Lukas Schrader co-authored a paper titled "Stress and early experience underlie dominance status and division of labour in a clonal insect".

    "Cooperation and division of labour are fundamental in the ‘major transitions’ in evolution. While the factors regulating cell differentiation in multi-cellular organisms are quite well understood, we are just beginning to unveil the mechanisms underlying individual specialization in cooperative groups of animals. Clonal ants allow the study of which factors influence task allocation without confounding variation in genotype and morphology. Here, we subjected larvae and freshly hatched workers of the clonal ant Platythyrea
    to different rearing conditions and investigated how these manipulations affected division of labour among pairs of oppositely treated, same-aged clonemates. High rearing temperature, physical stress, injury and malnutrition increased the propensity of individuals to become subordinate foragers rather than dominant reproductives. This is reflected in changed gene regulation: early stages of division of labour were associated with different expression of genes involved in nutrient signalling pathways, metabolism and the phenotypic response to environmental stimuli. Many of these genes appear to be capable of responding to a broad range of stressors. They might link environmental stimuli to behavioural and phenotypic changes and could therefore be more broadly involved in caste differentiation in social insects. Our experiments also shed light on the causes of  behavioural variation among genetically identical individuals."

    For the full paper click here.

    New paper by Buellesbach et al.

    © Buellesback et al.

    Jan Buellesbach recently published a new paper on cuticular hydrocarbons and their potential role in sexual signaling and species discrimination cues in parasitoid wasps.

    Here is an excerpt from the abstract:
    "We found a surprising degree of either unspecific or insufficient sexual signaling when cuticular hydrocarbons are singled out as recognition cues. Most strikingly, the cosmopolitan species Nasonia vitripennis, expected to experience enhanced selection pressure to discriminate against other co-occurring parasitoids, did not discriminate against CHC of the phylogenetically distant species Trichomalopsis sarcophagae. Focusing on the latter species, in turn, it became apparent that CHC are even insufficient as the sole cue triggering sexual behavior, hinting at the requirement of additional, synergistic sexual cues particularly important in this species. Finally, in the phylogenetically and chemically most divergent species Muscidifurax uniraptor, we intriguingly found both CHC-based sexual signaling as well as species discrimination behavior intact although this species is naturally parthenogenetic with sexual reproduction only occurring under laboratory conditions."

    For the full paper, click here.

    New review by Schrader & Schmitz on transposable elements

    © Schrader & Schmitz

    A new review by Lukas Schrader and Jürgen Schmitz was recently published on how transposable elements my lead to adaptive changes. The full paper is available here.

    "The growing knowledge about the influence of transposable elements (TEs) on (a) long‐term genome and transcriptome evolution; (b) genomic, transcriptomic and epigenetic variation within populations; and (c) patterns of somatic genetic differences in individuals continues to spur the interest of evolutionary biologists in the role of TEs in adaptive evolution. As TEs can trigger a broad range of molecular variation in a population with potentially severe fitness and phenotypic consequences for individuals, different mechanisms evolved to keep TE activity in check, allowing for a dynamic interplay between the host, its TEs and the environment in evolution. Here, we review evidence for adaptive phenotypic changes associated with TEs and the basic molecular mechanisms by which the underlying genetic changes arise: (a) domestication, (b) exaptation, (c) host gene regulation, (d) TE‐mediated formation of intronless gene copies—so‐called retrogenes and (e) overall increased genome plasticity. Furthermore, we review and discuss how the stress‐dependent incapacitation of defence mechanisms against the activity of TEs might facilitate adaptive responses to environmental challenges and how such mechanisms might be particularly relevant in species frequently facing novel environments, such as invasive, pathogenic or parasitic species."

    The picture shows the genome wide dispersion of transposons within the genome of C. obscuris (queen of C. obscuris pictured in the center).

    New paper by Demandt et al. & Interview with Dr. J. Scharsack in "dlf - Forschung Aktuell"

    Stickle Parasite
    © J. P. Scharsack

    The stickleback part of the "Animal Evolutionary Ecology" group just released a new paper on how infected sticklebacks shift the behaviour of uninfected sticklebacks towards a bolder behaviour. In connection with the new paper, Dr. Jörn Scharsack was interviewed by the Deutschlandfunk (dlf) for the "Forschung aktuell" broadcast about the findings of this study. The interview will be broadcasted today at 16:35 on the Deutschlandfunk and will be available here on the official "Forschung aktuell" webpage directly after the broadcast.

    For the official WWU announcement of the paper click here. There are articles about the paper in "The Atlantic" and "United Press International". The German public international broadcast service "Deutsche Welle" (DW) also reported on this paper, see here.

    Nicolle Demandt, Benedikt Saus, Ralf H. J. M. Kurvers, Jens Krause, Joachim Kurtz, Jörn Peter Scharsack: Parasite-infected sticklebacks increase the risk-taking behavior of uninfected group members. Proceedings of the Royal Society B; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.0956

    3rd HFSP Programme Grant for IEB PI Prof. Erich Bornberg-Bauer

    2018-04-09 Hfsp Grant Bornberg-bauer
    © Portrait: WWU/Peter Grewer; Termites: CSIRO, licensed under

    Prof. Dr. Erich Bornberg-Bauer has been awarded with a prestigious Program Grant by the International Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Organization. The HFSP’s collaborative Research Grants are given for a broad range of projects under the umbrella theme “Complex mechanisms of living organisms”. The program funds only cutting-edge, risky projects and provides 3 years of support for international teams involving at least two countries. The selection process is highly competitive: Out of 770 proposals from 50 different countries only 31 have been selected after a multi-level selection process. Prof. Bornberg-Bauer is part of a team that will investigate the role of diet in long-lived termite reproductives. Each team member receives on average 110,000 – 125,000 USD per year. It is the third HFSP grant for Prof. Bornberg-Bauer who was selected by the HFSP Organization already in 2006 and 2013. Press release by the WWU

    7th MGSE Symposium was held

    2018-03-21 Mgse Symposium 2018
    © WWU/MGSE

    The 7th MGSE Symposium was held on 21 – 22 March 2018 at the Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity at the University of Münster. Around 60 participants attended the two-day event which again offered the graduate students the opportunity to present their research in an oral presentation or a poster. For the first time, also PhD students from the Research Training Group EvoPAD – who are associated to the MGSE – were invited to share their first results, to network with evolutionary biologists in and around Münster, and to gain presenting experience. The programme was completed by talks of four MGSE Principal Investigators and three excellent keynote speakers: On the first day, Michael Lynch – member of the National Academy of Sciences and famous for his work supporting neutral theories of evolution – focussed on evolution at the molecular level. On the second day, Leo Beukeboom and Paula Stockley gave insights into the evolution of sex determination systems and post-copulatory sexual selection.
    We would like to thank all presenters and guests who helped making the MGSE symposium a great event again, showing off the diverse research within the graduate school. Programme and pictures...

    The convergent evolution of termite eusociality

    © BornbergLab

    A study conducted by the research group of Prof Erich Bornberg-Bauer together with several collaborators from Europe and the USA has been published in the March issue of Nature ecology & evolution. In this article they provide evidence that major changes in gene regulation and the evolution of sophisticated chemical communication accompanied the emergence of termites - which are essentially eusocial cockroaches. Many of these results parallel molecular mechanisms of eusocial evolution in Hymenoptera (e.g. bees, ants and wasps). However, the specific solutions are remarkably different, thus revealing a striking case of convergence in one of the major evolutionary transitions in biological complexity.

    Mark C. Harrison, Evelien Jongepier, ... , Erich Bornberg-Bauer "Hemimetabolous genomes reveal molecular basis of termite eusociality." Nature ecology & evolution (2018): 1. doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0459-1

    EvoPAD welcomes Jürgen Gadau as new member

    © WWU/EvoPAD; Nasonia: AG Gadau

    Good news from the DFG: The Grants Committee accepted Prof. Dr. Jürgen Gadau as additional Principal Investigator of EvoPAD. The RTG will be provided with funding for another PhD student including equipment costs. The decision of the Grants Committee is based on very positive peer reviews of the proposal which has been submitted to the DFG in October 2017. Prof. Gadau is appreciated as a leading figure in the field of sociogenomics, with an excellent track record and a high profile research portfolio. The project of Prof. Gadau will try to identify and understand the gene regulatory networks that keep the interaction between nuclear and mitochondrial encoded genes functioning. More specifically, the project will focus on the mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation system (OXPHOS) in Nasonia and how its evolution is linked to mitochondrial capacity, metabolic rates, and hybrid incompatibility in this parasitoid wasp genus. The project is supposed to start in April 2018. Together with Prof. Gadau, 13 Principal Investigators are now involved in the doctoral training within EvoPAD.

    ETT-Fellow Chris Smith publishes study supported by the MGSE

    © WWU/MGSE

    ETT-Fellow Prof. Dr. Chris Smith has now published a study which was supported by the Evolution Think Tank of the MGSE. In their work, Prof. Smith and his co-authors identify a highly conserved expression pattern in an insect-only gene family, the Osiris genes, that is essential for development, but also plays a significant role in phenotypic plasticity and in immunity/ toxicity responses. Chris Smith has been a Fellow of the Evolution Think Tank from May to June 2017. The publication can be found here: Smith CR, Morandin C, Noureddine M & Pant S (2018) Conserved roles of osiris genes in insect development, polymorphism and protection. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 10.1111/jeb.13238 [doi]

    PhD students launch MGSE magazine "The Eyebrow"

    © WWU/MGSE

    The MGSE PhD students proudly present the very first issue of The Eyebrow – a magazine for and by PhD students of the MGSE. “It is a magazine written, edited, formatted, and ultimately yielded by PhD students of the Münster Graduate School of Evolution. We do not aim to inform, yet we will. We aim not to elucidate, but we will. We do, however, aim to entertain, by letting thoughts run freely,” describes Editor-in-Chief April Snøfrid Kleppe the vision of the magazine in the issue’s editorial. The magazine features reportages from different MGSE groups, news of future and passed events, essays as well as cartoons and riddles, providing beautiful distraction for long days in the lab. The Eyebrow is currently the only student paper at the WWU and is planned to be published quarterly. The fact that the first issue turned out as well as it is shows the potential of the upcoming issues. To convince yourself, you can pick up your copy of The Eyebrow in the MGSE office building in Hüfferstr. 1a. A PDF version of the magazine will be available soon.

    Climate change as a possible driver of invasion and differential in HSP70 expression in two genetically distinct populations of the invasive killer shrimp, Dikerogammarus villosus

    Dv2 Bearb
    © MeyerLab

    Global climate change is known to affect physiological processes in charge of cellular stress response. That often results in forcing many organisms to shift their biogeographic distribution ranges. It also holds true for euryoecious and highly invasive species like the killer shrimp, Dikerogammarus villosus. In this study we compare the level of response to thermal stress in two genetically diversified populations of the amphipod D. villosus on the cellular level, namely HSP70 expression. The results show clear difference in HSP70 expression, that can be a direct consequence of the different climatic conditions both populations faced along their invasion routes. We conclude that the eastern population of D. villosus is more sensitive to thermal stress than the western population, hence its invasion potential may be lower than that of the latter. Considering the thermal tolerance of both populations and global warming, we can make some predictions about further spread of D. villosus, including the possibility of an emergence of the super-invader that may arise after cross-breeding of both populations, imposing even larger threat to the freshwater ecosystems.

    Hupało, K., Riss, H.W., Grabowsk,i M., Thiel, J., Bącela-Spychalska, K., Meyer, E.I. (2018): Climate change as a possible driver of invasion and differential in HSP70 expression in two genetically distinct populations of the invasive killer shrimp, Dikerogammarus villosus. Biological Invasions,

    Projektmodul - Vorstellung der Arbeitsgruppen

    07.02.2018 - 18 Uhr - Sozialraum des IEB
    Ieb Winter2017b
    © Peter Lessmann

    Parasiten - Global Player der Ökosysteme

    Ql Stichling
    © IEB - Animal Evolutionary Ecology Group

    Joachim Kurtz and Jörn Scharsack contributed to a radio broadcast on the role of parasites as "global players" in ecosystems called "Parasiten - Global Player der Ökosysteme" by Rainer B. Langen. It will air Wednesday the 10.01.2018 at 8:30 am on SWR 2. For a recording of the show visit the SWR2 podcast.

    Joachim Kurtz und Jörn Scharsack trugen zu einer Radiosendung über die Rolle von Parasiten als "global player" in Ökosystem names "Parasiten - Global Player der Ökosysteme" von Rainer B. Langen bei. Die Sendung wird am Mittwoch dem 10.01.2018 um 8:30 im SWR2 ausgestrahlt. Eine Aufnahme der Sendung wird es im SWR2 Podcast nach der Ausstrahlung geben.

  • 2015


    Molecular Evolution & Bioinformatics Group In Public Media

    Group 2015

    Talk of Prof. Joachim Kurtz at the "Kinder-Uni"

    Kinderuni Mg 5262 1 1
    © WWU - Judith Kraft

    Frei Plätze im FGM “Subalpine und alpine Vegetation temperater Hochgebirge am Beispiel der Zentralalpen mit Exkursion ins Ötztal“

    Bachelorarbeiten / Bachelor Theses 2015