Research projects

Integration of molecules and morphology to investigate the phylogenetic position of Myzostomida

Myzostomids are minute, soft-bodied marine worms, associated with echinoderms since the Carboniferous. Due to this long history of host-specific adaptation they have developed a highly derived body plan. Based on previous molecular analyses, they are related either to Annelida or Platyzoa. To reveal the phylogenetic position of Myzostomida, we use a combined approach integrating transcriptome-data, gene-expression studies and immunocytochemical methods. ..... more

Phologenie der Myzostomiden
Wolbachia in bees (Anthophila)

We are interested in the pathways of horizontal transmission of this intracellular bacterium. So far, only little is known about the mechanisms that lead to the worldwide spread of Wolbachia, especially about the patterns of its interspecific exchange. We apply various methods to gain insights into these patterns in bees. ..... more


Osmia caerulescens
Evolution and phylogeny of annelids

Annelida is an ancient and very diverse animal taxon inhabiting diverse habitats from the deep sea to terrestrial soils. Beeing one of the three animal groups with segmentation, deciphering the evolution of Annelida is crucial to our understanding of the evolution of segmentation. To get a better insight in the phylogeny of the Annelida, we are generating transcriptome libraries of serveral annelid taxa using next generation sequencing. By increasing the amount of molecular data per taxon, we expect to robustly resolve the backbone of the annelid tree of life. ..... more

Phylogenie der Anneliden
Faunistic inventory studies of aculeate Hymenoptera

Hymenoptera got significant interest in many conservation surveys due to their specific ecological binding. We are conducting faunistic studies of aculeate Hymenoptera in the Leipzig metropolitan area. Currently we are investigating the insect fauna of the Hochhalde Trages south of Leipzig. Species identification is carried out in the lab using morphological (binocular microscopy) and molecular methods (molecular taxonomy). ..... more


Hochhalde Trages
Investigation of the evolution of body musculature and nervous system patterns in polychaetes and allies

Developmental modes and body plan diversification within annelids and allies are as diverse as the habitat types these lophotrochozoans are distributed in. So far, the interpretation of muscular or neuronal patterns and their observation considering any direction of evolutionary change was highly speculative. Recent phylogenomic investigations now present a solid background of annelid phylogeny. In order to extend our knowledge concerning the variability of organ system patterns within Annelida, we analyze the patterns of musculature and several neuronal markers in conjunction with confocal laser scanning microscopy (clsm). ..... more


Effect of habitat fragmentation on lizard species

Land use pressure is one of the most pervasive current processes leading to habitat loss, fragmentation, and structural changes of habitats throughout the world. The project aims to investigate and compare the effect of habitat specialization on fragmentation sensitivity of the two lizard species Lacerta agilis and Lacerta viridis in different parts of their range (Germany and Bulgaria) using microsattelite analyses. ..... more

Lacerta agilis
Venom evolution of glycerid polychaetes

Glyceridae (bloodworms) are carnivorous polychaetes that use their evertable pharynx for prey catching. The pharynx bears four teeth, which are equipped with venom-producing glands. Only a few studies are available for the venom composition of these worms. It has been shown that some bloodworm species are able to produce a neurotoxin named α-glycerotoxin, which is found, so far, only in this group. In this way, this new toxin offers the basis for a wide field of new and interesting studies. ..... more


Glycera fallax
Near intron pairs (NIPs) and the phylogeny of beetles and related insects

Our group found a new phylogenetic marker class which we called near intron pair (NIP). The suitability of NIPs as a phylogenetic marker was demonstrated by analysis of the relatedness of four major holometabolic insect orders. Now we investigate phylogenetically informative intron distributions in representative species of other smaller holometabolic insect orders, such as Strepsiptera, Neuroptera, Megaloptera, Raphidioptera and Mecoptera. ..... more

Stylops mellitae
Regeneration of musculature and nervous system in annelids

Annelids represent excellent model organisms to investigate the regeneration of complete organ systems. Nevertheless, underlying mechanisms are rarely investigated and characterized until now. Furthermore, availabe data is limited to a few annelid species. By using immunocytochemical stainings, gene expression studies and proliferation markers we try to identify basic patterns of muscular and neuronal neogenesis during anterior regeneration. ..... more