Structure and Function

Using numerous traditional and new methods (imaging techniques, OMICS, etc.), the Research Activity “Structure and Function” initially examines how organisms are structured and how these structures enable certain functions. This includes all structural levels: skeletons, musculature, organ systems, tissues, cell architecture, genomes, genes, and metabolism, and the studies involve both recent and fossil organisms. Building on these results, we examine the structural and functional differences as well as shared traits between various organisms and how structures and functions have changed in the course of evolution. A central issue in this context is the clarification of homologies. This results in drawing up evolutionary scenarios, understanding structures on a biomechanical level, and developing new systems of taxonomically or systematically important characters for Research Activity “Taxonomy and Systematics”. Due to the establishment of LOEWE-TBG , this RA’s profile is currently being greatly expanded by studies regarding the structure and function of genomes and genes (basal structural level). This also allows studies regarding the correlation between genomic and phenotypical structural levels and thus the development of complex evolutionary scenarios.

Finally, the transfer of results from structural and functional analyses to practical applications is also relevant. For example, conclusions about the teeth of primates, including humans, are incorporated into digital dentistry; knowledge about the insects’ skeletal muscle system serves as a creative pool for technical exoskeletons and designs; and functional studies regarding the genome provide new natural materials for various application areas.


Dr.  Klaus-Dieter Klass
Head of Section Coleoptera

Editor-in-chief: Arthropod Systematics & Phylogeny
Member of Editorial Board: European Journal of Entomology
Member of Editorial Board: Insect Systematics & Evolution

Publications by K.-D. Klass before 2002

• Klass K.-D. (2001): Morphological evidence on blattarian phylogeny: “phylogenetic histories and stories” (Insecta, Dictyoptera). Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift 48: 223–265.
• Klass K.-D. (2001): The female abdomen of the viviparous earwig Hemimerus vosseleri (Insecta: Dermaptera: Hemimeridae), with a discussion of the postgenital abdomen of Insecta. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 131: 251–307.
• Klass K.-D. & Kristensen N.P. (2001): The ground plan and affinities of hexapods: recent progress and open problems. In: Deuve T. (ed.), Origin of the Hexapoda. Annales de la Société Entomologique de France NS 37: 265–298.
• Klass K.-D. (2000): The male abdomen of the relic termite Mastotermes darwiniensis (Insecta: Isoptera: Mastotermitidae). Zoologischer Anzeiger 239: 231–262.
• Klass K.-D., Thorne B.L. & Lenz M. (2000): The male postabdomen of Stolotermes: termites with unusually well-developed external genitalia (Dictyoptera: Isoptera: Stolotermitinae). Acta Zoologica (Stockholm) 81: 121–130.
• Klass K.-D. (1999): The pregenital abdomen of a mantid and a cockroach: musculature and nerve topography, with comparative remarks on other Neoptera (Insecta: Dictyoptera). Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift 46: 3–42.
• Klass K.-D. (1998): The ovipositor of Dictyoptera (Insecta): Homology and ground-plan of the main elements. Zoologischer Anzeiger 236: 69–101.
• Klass K.-D. (1998): The proventriculus of the Dicondylia, with comments on evolution and phylogeny in Dictyoptera and Odonata (Insecta). Zoologischer Anzeiger 237: 15–42.
• Klass K.-D. (1998): Possible homologies in the proventriculi of Dicondylia (Hexapoda) and Malacostraca (Crustacea). Zoologischer Anzeiger 237: 43–58.
• Klass K.-D. (1997): The external male genitalia and the phylogeny of Blattaria and Mantodea. Bonner Zoologische Monographien 42: 1–341.
• Klass K.-D. (1995): Die Phylogenie der Dictyoptera. Diss. Univ. München. Cuvillier, Göttingen. 400 pp.

Dr. Thomas Lehmann
Head of Section Palaeomammalogy