SBIK-F Research Group

Molecular Evolutionary Biology

Environmental and evolutionary drivers modify the genomes of populations, species, and communities. We study such molecular signatures using methods of comparative genomics, metagenomics, community barcoding, phylogenetics, population genetics, and ecological modeling. A focus of our genome analyses is to understand biosynthetic gene clusters and transposable elements. Our community genetics projects involve soil communities, historical communities from lake sediments, and microorganisms associated with the lichen symbiosis.


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