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Master Molecular Biosciences


 

 

Major Evolution & Ecology - Lecturers

 

 

Marcus Koch Mike Thiv Alexander Siegmund Karin Schumacher
Thomas Braunbeck Claudia Erbar Andre Baumann Thomas Rausch
Michael Wink Andreas Franzke Rüdiger Hell Norbert Becker

 


 

 

 

Marcus Koch - Biodiversity and plant systematics

 

COS Heidelberg

email website

Evolutionary and biodiversity research in our department is focusing on various levels of biological variation - from molecules to landscapes. In our department we are addressing questions on 1) systematics and phylogenetic relationships among plant species, 2) phylobiogeography (the distribution of genetic variation in space and time), 3) the evolution of molecular marker systems (from single genes and regions to whole genomes), 4) adaptation processes and character trait evolution, 5) genome evolution, 6) speciation processes, breeding system evolution and differentiation on the population level, 7) developmental-molecular processes responsible for maintaining plant cell identity, and 8) structure, morphology and evolution of angiosperm flowers. For many of the projects we are focusing on cruciferous plants (mustard family, Brassicaceae). Our aim is to develop this group of more than 3700 species into one of the most important model systems on the family level and below.

 

 

Thomas Braunbeck - Aquatic ecology and toxicology, limnology

 

COS Heidelberg

email website

The research focus of the Aquatic Ecology and Toxicology Group is on the identification of hazard and risk of environmental contaminants to aquatic biota and ecosystems. Most research projects are focused on sublethal health effects in fish and fish embryos, with the zebrafish, the Japanese medaka, the fathead minnow and the rainbow trout being the major experimental models organisms.

The toxicological endpoints routinely recorded include: cytotoxicity; toxicity to bacteria; genotoxicity; endocrine effects; teratogenic effects; induction of biotransformation processes; calcium oscillations; pathology, histology and cytology; population-relevant changes (life-cycle experiments, two-generation experiments); and integrative environmental assessment. In addition to lab-based work, efforts are made to adapt these endpoints to make them suitable for use in limnological studies into the remediation of local river and lake systems.

 

 

Michael Wink - Evolution and plant secondary metabolites

 

IPMB

email website

Our research is focused on 2 major topics:

1. Evolutionary research (molecular systematics, molecular phylogeny, phylogeography, island biogeography, population genetics of plants - mainly Fabaceae and Asphodeloideae-, birds -raptors, owls, bustards, cranes, petrels, hoopoes, shrikes, reed warblers, stone chats- and reptiles)

2. Plant secondary metabolites (evolution, function, pharmacology, phytochemistry)

 

 

Mike Thiv - Island biogeography

 

COS Heidelberg

Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart

email website

Islands have often been regarded as natural laboraties to study processes of evolution. Questions include in the equlibrium theory of island biogeography and colonisation modes. Mike Thiv studies evolutionary patterns of Macaronesia in the Atlantic and of Socotra in the Indian Ocean. Phylogenetic reconstructions and molecular dating methods are applied to several plant groups of these islands to infer colonisation patterns.

 

 

Claudia Erbar - Flower biology and evolution

 

COS Heidelberg

email website

In the group “Flower Biology and Evolution” we are interested in floral developmental features for understanding relationships between structure, function, systematics, and phylogeny. A second focus is on floral ecology, namely on the functions of the flower in the processes of pollination and fertilisation. Floral developmental patterns have been proven as important characters when testing the predictions of relationships of flowering plants by molecular data. Current projects concerning ontogeny are the study of corolla tube formation in euasterids and the search for non-molecular data characterizing families resulting from the disintegration of Scrophulariaceae. Other projects are the style diversity in Asteraceae (with regard to function and phylogeny) and the diversity of nectaries in Brassicaceae.

 

 

Andreas Franzke - Systematics, phylogeny and biogeography of Brassicaceae

 

COS Heidelberg

Botanic Garden

email website

As custodian of the Heidelberg Botanic Garden, I am responsible for the scientific management of the living plant collections and community education programs. The garden plays also an important role in the teaching of students as well as providing support for theses or dissertations. My research focuses on (molecular) systematics, phylogeny and biogeography of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), that includes some ornamentals, many economically important crop species, some of the worst agricultural weeds, as well as the thale cress, Arabidopsis thaliana, the most important model organism of flowering plants for contemporary plant science.


 

Alexander Siegmund - Research Group for Earth Observation

 

RGEO

(PH Heidelberg)

email website

Learning to understand the «system earth« - the Research Group for Earth Observation (rgeo) at the Department of Geography (University of Education and University Heidelberg) explores and explains environmental changes on different spatial levels. The focus is on the analysis, modeling and visualization of environmental changes - from the effect of local land use changes on ecosystems to the consequences of global climate change. The profile of rgeo is characterized by the use of modern geographic methods - remote sensing and mobile digital geo-tools as well as geo-ecological lab methods and field experiments. The research to solve current human-environment-problems and its transmission to society complement each other. The necessary expertise is pooled and further developed by two competence centers: the «GIS-Station, Klaus-Tschira-Competence Center for
Digital Geomedia» and the «Geco-Lab, Competence Center for Geo-Ecological Space Exploration». Together with a network of partners worldwide the rgeo-team is thus contributing to discovering, exploring and explaining spatial patterns and processes.


 

Andre Baumann - Naturschutzbund NABU Baden-Württemberg

 

NABU Baden-Württemberg

email website

 

 

Rüdiger Hell - Molecular biology of plants

 

COS Heidelberg

email website

Our work aims at the understanding of how plants work under different environmental conditions. In project 1 the availability of nutrients is investigated at the whole plant level. The assimilation of sulfate and its interaction with iron metabolism are analysed with respect to metabolites, gene expression, protein biochemistry and cell biology.

Project 2 discovers the functions of N-alpha-terminal acetylation of proteins. This usually co-translational process is the most common modification of soluble proteins in plants and animals and operates in protein stability and many other functions and contributes to stress resistance.

 

 

Karin Schumacher - Plant developmental biology

 

COS Heidelberg

email website

Due to their sessile lifestyle, plants need to efficiently adapt their metabolic and developmental program to changing and often unfavourable environmental conditions. Adaptation often involves considerable fluctuations of metabolite and ion concentrations between tissues, cells and organelles that are mediated either by membrane transport or vesicular trafficking. Our lab has shown that in the model plant Arabidopis the V-ATPase, a highly conserved eikaryotic proton-pumps, does not only fuel secondary active transport processes but also plays anl important role in the regulation of endocytic and secretory trafficking. 

Current research aims at understanding the regulatory networks that control V-ATPase activity as well as the identification of the biological interactions that depend on the activity of this complex proton-pump. Using Arabidopsis as our main model system, we employ genetics and cell biology as well as biochemistry and physiology to provide knowledge that could eventually lead to novel strategies for improved crop yield under stress conditions.

 

 

Thomas Rausch - Plant molecular physiology

 

 

 

 

COS Heidelberg

email website

PMEI-related inhibitor proteins: Sucrose-hydrolyzing invertases in the cell wall and the vacuole, and cell wall-localized pectin methylesterases are post-translationally regulated by inhibitory proteins belonging to the same protein family: pectin methylesterase inhibitor-related proteins (PMEI-RP). This project aims at unraveling the roles of different PMEI-RPs in different plant species, plant organs and cell types.
Inulin metabolism: Inulin is used as carbohydrate storage compound in plants but may also be involved in several stress responses. The economically most important source is chicory, which accumulates inulin in its taproots. Biotechnological goals are to increase inulin yield and its degree of polymerization.

 

 

Norbert Becker - Medical entomology, limnology and applied ecology

 

KABS e.V.

email website

The research of my working group is focused on medical entomology, limnology and applied ecology. We are specialists in mosquito taxonomy, morphology, biology and environmentally safe control measures against mosquitoes mainly based on biological control tools.

Monitoring and surveillance of mosquitoes is an important research topic especially regarding exotic mosquitoes in Germany. Globalization resulting in increased international trade and human mobility is responsible for the quick spread of exotic mosquitoes and pathogens causing mosquito-borne diseases. We are running programs to assess the spread of these exotic mosquitoes, the occurrence of pathogens. Furthermore, we are developing tools for the control of vector mosquitoes to avoid health risks for the general public.

In courses on ecology we teach students to understand synecological aspects and to experience the nature and the biodiversity of our area.

 

 

 

 


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