Genomic Evolution and Climate

The Research Activity “Genomic Evolution and Climate” performs research at the molecular level: What impact does the climate have on the evolution of populations and the temporal and spatial distribution of genetic diversity?

In addition, it studies the effect of climate on micro-evolutionary processes in species interactions and living communities and addresses the question whether and how climate change and other events in the past may have shaped genomic processes and diversification as well as evolutionary innovation.

The Mesocosm Hall, which allows extensive, experimental research on evolution and adaptation, provides our own modern infrastructure for these studies, which also aids in the successful validation of field observations and enables us to study the effects of climate and other abiotic factors on the dynamics in genomic processes and the interaction between species at the molecular level. A molecular-biological laboratory center creates a research environment that has also raised genetic/genomic studies in other areas of the SGN research program to widely recognized standards. The LOEWE Center for Translational Biodiversity Genomics located here makes the results of the genomic research available for practical application.


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

Prof. Dr. Markus Pfenninger
Professor, Head of the Molecular Laboratory, Head of Research Group 'Molecular Ecology'

Research interests

The focus of my research is the genomic basis of niche evolution, speciation and local adaptation with closely related species pairs and intraspecific variation in land and freshwater snails, non-biting midges and extremophile molly fishes. We take an integrative approach: field studies, ecological and evolutionary experiments, comparative genomic approaches and experimental evolution. The ultimate vision thereby is to relate ecological differences functionally to their genomic basis.

Former Projects:

D1: cross-taxon genomic basis of climate-relevant fitness traits

D3: development of taxonomic dna-chips and other high-troughput tests for the routine identification of monitoring samples

D3.1: benthos barcoding

A1.3: radiation of pulmonata during the cenozoic [ellobioidea] (2008-2011)

A1.7: model selection

B1.14: tropical marine ecosystems: diversity and dynamics of coral reef ecosystems and reef-associated fish assemblages

C5.2: evolutionary adaptation potential of key aquatic species of different climatic regions

Curriculum Vitae

Aktuelle Publikationen