Prof. Dr. Imke Schmitt
Professor, Deputy Director 'Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre', Head of Research Group 'Molecular Evolutionary Biology'


My primary research interest is the evolution of symbiotic organisms, in particular those that form partnerships with fungi. I have been using phylogenetics and comparative phylogenetics to analyze the evolutionary history of lichen-forming fungi and their characters. Since many fungal groups produce a wide variety of secondary metabolites, I am also interested in exploring the potential of phylogenetic methods in natural product chemistry to understand the evolution of chemical characters and biosynthetic genes. Currently my lab is studying the effects of climate change on the assembly of fungal communities associated with plant leaves and roots using next generation sequencing approaches. We want to find out, if the composition of symbiotic fungal communities affects local adaptation of the plants. My work integrates a variety of disciplines, such as molecular phylogenetics, systematics, natural product chemistry, and metagenomics.


Ecological functions of bioactive natural products from lichens (Project at LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics)

For a list of all my publications, see my Google Scholar profile

mitarbeiter Valim
Dr. Henrique Valim
Postdoctoral Researcher, Member of Research Group 'Molecular Evolutionary Biology'


My research interests lie in exploring the molecular evolution and population genetics of the circadian clock in lichens. To this end, my aim is to combine molecular phylogenetics and population genomics with experimental approaches in the laboratory to better understand the interplay between fungal and algal circadian clocks in the lichen symbiosis.

Dr. Edgar L. Y. Wong
Postdoctoral Researcher, Member of Research Group 'Molecular Evolutionary Biology'

I am an evolutionary biologist with background in ecology, genomics, botany and mycology. I am interested in employing a combination of field, laboratory, and bioinformatic tools to study processes underlying evolution and speciation. I have worked with a variety of organisms including plants, fungi, insects and bacteria. My current focus at SBiK-F is climate adaptation of lichens using various omics tools. Previously, I was at the University of Oxford, studying evolutionary genomics in fungi (crop pathogens) and insects over a time series, metagenomics of bacterial communities, and speciation and adaptation of ragworts on Mount Etna.



ORCiD: 0000-0002-0203-2458

Dr. Rosa Celia Poquita-Du
Dr. Rosa Celia Poquita-Du
My research focuses on obligate symbiotic systems, in particular, those that mainly involve a photosynthetic algal partner such as coral and lichen. I am interested about acclimatization mechanisms of a holobiont to changing environments and examining phenotypic variations using a combination of physiological trait measurements and ‘omics tools (genomics and transcriptomics).  
Lukas Dreyling
Ph.D. student, Member of Research Group 'Molecular Evolutionary Biology'


I am primarily interested in the structure and interactions of communities in different environmental contexts. Especially how different species within a community influence each other and how those relationships are mediated by their environment. In the past I have studied root competition between shrubs from mediterranean type ecosystems in South Africa, identifying how this interaction is shaped by density dependence. Currently I am expanding my skillset and work with microbial communities from various forest substrates, which are assessed by high-throughput metabarcoding. I study community interactions and model how abiotic factors, such as forest management, are changing these micro-communities. Being able to combine fieldwork with laboratory work, statistics and ecological modeling is one of the things making this research field so fascinating and I enjoy being part of the genetically informed future of community ecology.

Dr. Anjuli Calchera
Ricarda Prinz
Administrative coordination of Research Group 'Biogeography and Ecosystem Ecology', 'Evolutionary Analyses and Biological Archives' and 'Molecular Evolutionary Biology'


Dr. Francesco Dal Grande
Dr. Francesco dal Grande
Senior Scientist, Member of Research Group 'Molecular Evolutionary Biology'

Research interests

Effects of climate change on lichen-forming fungi and their photobionts:reactions of species/communities, diversity and stress-protective role of secondary metabolites.

Co-Phylogeography of lichen symbionts: selectivity and specifity in lichen communities, vertical vs. horizontal photobiont transmission.

Molecular phylogenetics of green algal lichen symbionts.

Secondary metabolites of fungal and algal lichen symbionts: annotation and analysis of secondary metabolite biosynthesis gene clusters in lichen genomes.


Winner of the „Mason Hale Award“; IAL (International Association for Lichenology): „The Mason Hale Award is granted to recognise excellence in research by young lichenologists for outstanding work resulting from doctoral dissertations or similar studies.“

Dr. Garima Singh
PostDoc, Member of Research Group 'Molecular Evolutionary Biology', Member of LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics
Dominik Merges
Dr. Dominik Merges
PostDoc, Member of Research Group 'Molecular Evolutionary Biology', Member of LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics
Dr. Gregor Rolshausen
Postdoc, Datenanalyst, Projektmitarbeiter Wildtiergenetik

External Links