Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt

Botany and Molecular Evolution

NEWS 2018


(29.11.2018) Klaus Tschira Foundation supports development of Carl Bosch's moss herbarium
The well-known Nobel Prize winner and former CEO of BASF, Carl Bosch, was not only a successful chemist and manager, but also an enthusiastic naturalist and collector. Since the 1960s, the Senckenberg Research Institute has been preserving his collections of beetles, molluscs, lichens and bryophytes, a total of several 100,000 specimens. The Klaus Tschira Foundation has now granted 87,500 euros to re-mount and make the original moss collection of around 17,000 samples digitally accessible. The project application was prepared mainly by our volunteer Dr. Gerhard Winter. A "Citizen Science Project" in two senses! 

Herbarium Carl Bosch

Historical collections contain valuable information on environmental changes that are usually difficult to access. The herbarium of Carl Bosch, Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, will be made accessible over the next few years with funds from the Klaus Tschira Foundation.


(08.11.2018) Networking meeting of Senckenberg botanists and palaeobotanists took place from 5th to 7th November in Frankfurt
27 colleagues from Dresden, Frankfurt, Görlitz, Jena, Weimar took part in this year's networking meeting, Mona Hoppenrath from Wilhelmshaven was connected on Nov. 5th by video conference. An important topic was the exchange with the Senckenberg palaeobotanists about possible cooperation and future projects.

Seminarraum Lutz Kunzmann

The conference took place mainly in the very aptly fitted new seminar room. An important part of the program was the exchange of ideas between palaeobotanists and botanists about possible cooperations (here, on the right, Lutz Kunzmann during his presentation).

Further items were reports on planning, construction and moving collections (SNMG is currently planning the new building), project reports, coordination with regards to the curating of the herbarium collections and, above all, considerations on cross-locational strategies and third-party funded projects. Not to forget the coffee and lunch breaks as an important opportunity for exchange on a wide variety of topics.


Especially in Görlitz, the planning of new collection rooms is an important current topic. The new collection rooms of the Botanik Frankfurt found interest, the "new danger" paperfish was also a theme.

The programme was rounded off by a guided tour through the new collection rooms, the science garden at the
Riedberg and an excursion to the Schwanheimer Alteichen and to the Rohsee.

Wissenschaftsgarten der Universität Frankfurt

Visit to the Science Garden of the Goethe University.

Alteichen in Schwanheim Indra Starke-Ottich vor dem Info-Bus

The excursion to the Alteichen (old oak trees) in Schwanheim and to the Rohsee swamp was organized by Indra Starke-Ottich. The perfect preparation included coffee and cookies and the info bus.

Die Exkursionsteilnehmer am Rohsee

The new collection and functional rooms, but also the new guest rooms and the bistro in the Jügelhaus were rated very positive. We are already looking forward to the next meeting in Görlitz (probably June 2019).

(26.10.2018) Move accomplished = Herbarium reopened
Since 1 October 2018, the Herbarium Senckenbergianum Frankfurt/M. (FR) is operational again at its new location. The collections are now all housed in air-conditioned and protected rooms in compact units. Together with the offices the botany department is now located in the Jügelhaus in Mertonstraße in the museum complex at Senckenberganlage 25.

Stefan Dressler vor der Kompaktanlage im neuen Herbarium


(16.10., suppl. 17.10.2018) "Monocots VI" conference in Natal
From 6-14th Oct. 2018 Fabian Bratzel, Juraj Paule and Georg Zizka participated in the"6th International Conference on Comparative Biology of Monocotyledons – Monocots VI" in Natal, Brazil, which also included the "2nd World Congress of Bromeliaceae Evolution – Bromevo II" (Abstract volume).

Strand nahe dem Tagungsort Obstregal

Conference venue near the beach.

Part of our daily diet.
Crypthantus zonatus Sanddünen im Stadtgebiet von Natal

Cryptanthus zonatus, an endemic bromeliad.

Impressive sand dunes with Restinga vegetation in the urban area of Natal.

The department was represented with the organization of a session (Recent advances in Bromelioideae systematics) together with our cooperation partner Elton Leme as well as 3 lectures and 1 poster. More than 400 participants provided for an extensive program, excursions led into the coastal forest vegetation on sand (Restinga and elements of the Mata Atlântica).

Vortragende der Bromelioideae-Session

Speakers of the Bromelioideae session (from left): Claudia Ramírez, Jefferson Rodriguez Maciel, Elton Leme, Gregory Brown, Juraj Paule, Georg Zizka.


◄ The great importance of the Cashu tree (Anacardium occidentale) native to the region can also be seen in the telephone booths.

Part of daily diet. ►

Many thanks to the organizers!


Abendempfang im Palmenhaus

(08.10.2018) Visit to Helsinki

From 13 to 15 September, lichen curator Christian Printzen visited the Botanical Museum of the University of Helsinki as opponent of Annina Launis, who successfully defended her doctoral thesis on the systematics and conservation of the lichen genus Micarea on 14 September.

The defence took place in the historic Nylander Hall according to old university tradition and was celebrated with an evening reception and dinner in the Botanical Garden.

◄ Dr. Annina Launis (right) and her supervisor Prof. Dr. Leena Myllys at the evening reception.

Disputation in Helsinki

Tradition meets modernity: Annina Launis, curator Jaakko Hyvönen and the opponent at the opening of the public defence. Note the headgear.


Relaxed party company celebrating after hard work.

(05.10.2018) BLAM elects new council
The Bryological-Lichenological Working Group for Central Europe (BLAM) elected a new council at its general meeting on 24 August 2018 in Immensee in the Allgäu (Bavaria). Christian Printzen, in his spare time curator for cryptogams in the Department of Botany and Molecular Evolutionary Research, was elected as the new chairman.


(05.10.2018) DFG-funded project „Lecanomics“ picks up speed
On July 1, Cristóbal Ivanovich from Punta Arenas in Chile took up his PhD position at the department. Cristóbal will investigate the molecular systematics and species delimitations within the large lichen genus Lecanora within the project "Lecanomics" funded by the DFG priority program "Taxon-omics".
Species of this genus can be found in practically all terrestrial ecosystems worldwide. In the last 50 years alone about 250 new species have been described. The project is supported by a worldwide network of cooperation partners.

Doktorand Cristóbal Ivanovich Kooperationspartner Mohammad Sohrabi

Lecanora is a species-rich genus of lichens occurring on all continents. Cristóbal Ivanovich on field work in southern Chile.

Lecanomics team member Mohammad Sohrabi in the field near the village of Deylaman in northern Iran.

On September 20, Yanyun Zhang from Kunming in China joined the Lecanomics team for another year. As part of her doctoral thesis supervised by Prof. Dr. Wang Lisong, she is working on the genus Rhizoplaca in China, which is closely related to Lecanora. From July 19 – August 6, Christian Printzen visited the Iranian partner Prof. Dr. Mohammad Sohrabi to collect samples in forests along the Caspian Sea. The region is known for its well-preserved deciduous forests


(11.09.2018) Almost done...
The relocation of the Department of Botany and Molecular Evolution Research to the Jügelhaus is expected to be completed in October 2018. The colleagues have been working in the new offices for ten days now. Only the Grunelius-Möllgaard molecular lab and the DNA archive operated by the department are still temporarily housed in the Maria-Sibylla-Merian-Haus and will move to their final location in the Reimersbau in 2019.


(10.09.2018) Forum Citizen Science: "Gemeinsam mehr erreichen"
On September 6 and 7, 2018, Senckenberg hosted the "Forum Citizen Science" with more than 100 participants.

Forum Citizen Science 2018 Forum Citizen Science 2018

The Botany Department presented two of its Citizen Science projects (Flora von Frankfurt, presented by Indra Starke-Ottich and African Plants – A Photo Guide, presented by Stefan Dressler) and was also involved with a short lecture. The biodiversity databases of the Botany Department have tens of thousands of visitors every year.



(16.08.2018) Natur • Forschung • Museum 148 (4-6)

New contributions to our member magazine "Natur • Forschung • Museum" concerning the use of herbarium specimens:

Networking im Laubblatt

Pflanzen digital

We congratulate Rainer Döring to his 40th anniversary of working for Senckenberg and thank him for his constant service for our botany department.

Titelseite von NFM 148 (4-6)

50 Jahre BLAM: Titelseite des Programmheftes

(13.04.2018) Meeting of Bryological-Lichenological Working Group for Central Europe (BLAM)

From 20 to 22 April 2018, more than 100 moss and lichen experts from Central Europe will meet at the Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bryological-Lichenological Working Group for Central Europe (BLAM).

Organised by Dr. Christian Printzen, curator of cryptogams, civil scientists who have made mosses and lichens and their research their hobby meet with experts. The conference programme will be supplemented by excursions to the old Botanical Garden of the Goethe University and the Taunus as well as a small art exhibition.


(13.04.2018) Removal at full swing

Being closed since January the removal of the Herbarium Senckenbergianum Frankfurt is curently taking place: more than 1.2 million specimens are being relocated from the old premises in Kuhwaldstraße to the newly refurbished air-conditioned collection rooms in the old university building (Jügel-Haus) next to the main museum building.

Blick in einen Teil des Herbariums in der Kuhwaldstraße Das GM-Lab im alten Arthur-von-Weinberg-Haus

The old Arthur-von-Weinberg-Haus in Kuhwaldstraße (used by Senckenberg since 1988) is emptying (herbarium and GM Lab).

The material is being deep-frozen at - 40°C for one week as a pest-control measure in two freezer containers. The collection removal is planned to last till May 2018, the offices are scheduled to move in Sept. 2018. We expect to open the herbarium again for visitors in October 2018.

Tiefkühlcontainer im Senckenberg-Hof

The two freezer containers (centre) in the Senckenberg courtyard used for collection freezing.

Geschützte Transporteinheit Ankunft im neuen GM-Lab

The herbarium is being transported in old cupboards and foil-wrapped to protect it from moisture during defrosting.

The new Grunelius-Möllgaard-Lab (Prä-PCR-Lab) at Tuesday, 10 April 2018.

Since Apr 9th the Grunelius-Möllgaard-Lab (GML) moved temporarily for 1 year into the Senckenberg Biodiversität und Klima-Forschungszentrum (M.S. Merian building) (SBiK-F gratefully acknowledged). The GML will be welcoming its users on 22nd Apr 2018. Its final location in 2019 will be the lab wing of the Reimersbau.

(13.04.2018) Project meeting at Senckenberg
On 19 March 2018, the first project meeting of the BMBF funded project "Botanical Gardens Plant Collections: Living
Resources for Integrative Evolutionary Research" (Evo-BoGa) took place in Frankfurt.

The project is coordinated by the Botanical Garden and Museum Berlin-Dahlem (BGBM), the aim of which is to make the collections of cacti and bromeliads in German Botanical Gardens more accessible and usable.

Project partners are University of Heidelberg (Prof. Dr. Marcus Koch) and the Senckenberg Department of Botany (Juraj Paule, Georg Zizka). We use molecular methods to determine bromeliads and reconstruct the phylogeny. Since 1st Feb. 2018, Dr. Fabian Bratzel employed in this project, Mrs. Nadine Cyrannek is writing her master thesis on this topic.

Right: Guzmania musaica, an epiphytic bromeliad (photo: D. Cáceres).

Guzmania musaica

Fabian Bratzel & Nadine Cyrannek

Dr. Fabian Bratzel and Nadine Cyrannek investigate the suitability of DNA sequences for barcoding in bromeliads.

(19.02.2018) Collecting trip to south Chile and Livingston Island

Einschiffung auf der

Senckenberg botanist Christian Printzen (right in the picture) is currently sampling lichen populations for his DFG project "Dispersal and genetic exchange of lichen populations between Patagonia and the Antarctic Peninsula". After a week of field work in southern Chile he embarked on 17 February together with his colleagues Ulrike Ruprecht (University of Salzburg, Austria) und Ulrik Söchting (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) on the "BIO Hesperides" to Livingston Island.