Molecular Evolutionary Biology



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
PostDoc, 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
PostDoc, 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).  
Mitarbeiter Foto
Lukas Dreyling
PhD Student 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. Jürgen Otte
Head of laboratory
Dr. Anjuli Calchera
Ricarda Prinz
Administrative coordination of Research Group 'Biogeography and Ecosystem Ecology', 'Evolutionary Analyses and Biological Archives' and 'Molecular Evolutionary Biology'


Prof. Dr. Miklós Bálint
Head of Research Group 'Functional environmental genomics' at SBiK-F, Professor of Functional Environmental Genomics at Justus-Liebig-University Gießen, Co-speaker at LOEWE-TBG

Research interests

Metabarcoding complex communities
Lake sediment-preserved DNA in paleoecology
Impact of climate change on biodiversity
Distribution and differentiation of organisms


Dr. Anna Sadowska-Deś
PhD 2011-2015
Dr. Philipp Schmidt
PhD 2011- 2016
Dr. Francesco Dal Grande
Postdoc 2011-2019, Senior Scientist 2019-2022
Dr. Garima Singh
PhD 2012-2017, Postdoc 2017-2022
Dr. Gregor Rolshausen
Postdoc, Data Scientist, Population Genetics

External Links

Dominik Merges
Dr. Dominik Merges
PostDoc, Member of Research Group 'Molecular Evolutionary Biology', Member of LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics