Research

Our current 30 research projects (see full list below) fall into four areas. In Sperm Biology we use experimental evolution and other experimental approaches to understand the significance of environmental (aka lifestyle) effects on sperm function, including infections, diet or atmospheric variation. Of central importance are oxygen radicals and sperm metabolism, which we measure using laser-induced fluorescence microscopy FLIM and microfluometry. See also Biz Turnell‘s, Barbara Eckel‘s, Conni Wetzker‘s, Ruijian Guo‘s and Klaus Reinhardt‘ page.

In Evolutionary Solutions to Diseases we focus on mitochondria, our cells’ powerhouses. The interaction of mitochondrial DNA with chromosomal DNA has substantial implications for the so-called mitochondrial replacement therapy (three-parent-baby technology). We aim to combine genetic methods with experimental evolution in order to identify suitable mito-nuclear interactions. See also Ralph Dobler‘s, Susanne Voigt‘s, Ruijian Guo‘s and Klaus Reinhardt‘s page.

Our third research area, related to Bioprospecting, examines natural solutions to all kinds of technical problems. We focus on areas where evolution is particularly rapid: evolutionary conflicts. Currently, we mainly concentrate on the  Molecular Biology of the Insect Cuticle. See also Bernard Moussian‘s, Renata Zuber‘s, Reda Ahmed‘s, Steven Lerch‘s and Klaus Reinhardt‘s page.

Finally, in Cultural Zoology we use zoological studies, to inform aspects of the human society, or use cultural aspects to reveal biological particularities. See also Klaus Reinhardt‘s page.

ID PROJECT SUMMARY PEOPLE involved (project leader in bold, links in green)
SPERM BIOLOGY (SB)
SB1 Female contribution to sperm storage We are interested in finding out why the females of many insect species can store sperm for such long times (current world record is at 29 years). We characterise the morphology and metabolism of the female sperm storage organs using genetic manipulations. People involved: Barbara Eckel, Cornelia Wetzker, Klaus Reinhardt
SB2 Sperm metabolism Sperm metabolism is arguably one of the most important aspects of sperm function. Equally arguable, it is the least precisely defined and one of the most unknown sperm parameters. Our aim is to characterise sperm metabolism in vivo in both the male and the female. Barbara Eckel, Klaus Reinhardt, Ruijian Guo, Cornelia Wetzker

 

SB3 Sexual selection on sperm metabolism? Drosophila differences in sperm competition make predictions about species differences in sperm metabolism and metabolic differences in sperm organs. Three issues will be addressed: 1) Cross-species comparison in ROS production of sperm, 2) ROS and MR comparison in D. mel using mutant line roGFP-2 line and 3) three species/4 organ comparison of ROS and MR Biz Turnell
SB4    

Project not disclosed

Rolf Jessberger, Maciej Paszkowski-Rogacz, Frank Buchholz, Cornelia Wetzker
   
MITO-NUCLEAR INTERACTION EFEFCTS AND DISEASE PHENOTYPES – (MN)
MN1 Mito-nuclear interaction effects on the genome We are interested to identify whether haplotypes leave specific genetic and epigenetic signatures on the nuclear genome. Andreas Dahl (Biotech Dresden), Damian Dowling (Monash Univ), Christoph Grunau (Univ Perpignan), Klaus Reinhardt, Susanne Voigt
MN2 Mito-nuclear interaction effects on sperm function Mitochondrial effects on sperm function and male fertility Ralph Dobler, Ruijian Guo, Klaus Reinhardt, Susanne Voigt, Damian Dowling (Monash Univ), Anne-Cecile Ribou (Univ Perpignan)
MN3 Mito-nuclear interaction effects on fitness Does the disruption of co-evolved mitochondrial and nuclear genomes have an effect on the reproductive success of males and/or females? I assess male reproductive success in the absence and presence of sperm competition as well as female reproductive success. Are other general life-history traits (e.g., longevity, development time, mating) affected by the coordinated interplay of mitochondrial and nuclear genomes? Ralph Dobler, Damian Dowling, Ted Morrow, Klaus Reinhardt
MN4 Mito-nuclear interaction and local adaptation There is ample evidence that selection does not only act on the nuclear genome but also on the mitochondrial genome. I investigate whether globally distributed flies (D. melanogaster) show patterns of local adaptation in their mitochondrial genome and in the combination of nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. Damian Dowling, Klaus Reinhardt, Ralph Dobler
MN5 Mito-nuclear interaction, Metabolism and Reactive Oxygen Species Production The coordinated interplay between mitochondrial and nuclear genes may be necessary for an optimal energy production in the cell. A disruption of co-evolved mito-nuclear genome combinations may affect the metabolism and lead to an increased level of harmful ROS production. Anne-Cecile Ribou (Univ Perpignan), Ralph Dobler, Klaus Reinhardt
MN6   Project not disclosed Ralph Dobler, Wei Dong, Klaus Reinhardt, Bernard Moussian
MN7 Systemic signal  translation into local languages by transcription factors to influence metabolism Conni Wetzker, Klaus Reinhardt, Adam Dobson (UCL)
   
CUTICLE BIOLOGY (C)
C1   Project not disclosed Reda Ahmed, Klaus Reinhardt, Hans-Peter Wiesmann (external), Susanne Voigt, Bernard Moussian
C2   Project not disclosed Renata Zuber, Bernard Moussian
C3   Project not disclosed Renata Zuber, Bernard Moussian
C4   Project not disclosed Renata Zuber, Bernard Moussian
C5   Project not disclosed Steven Lerch, Renata Zuber, Bernard Moussian
C6   Project not disclosed Renata Zuber, Bernard Moussian
C7   Project not disclosed Christin Froschauer, Bernard Moussian
C8   Project not disclosed Cornelia Thodte, Bernard Moussian
C9   Project not disclosed Christin, Bernard, Frank Buchholz, Bernard Moussian
     
OTHER TOPICS (OT) (yes, we do open topics)
OT1 The cultural history of bedbugs Few animals elicit such a profoundly honest response of horror, fear and fright as the bedbug does. Uninvited, bedbugs invade your privacy – your bed, leave their marks on it and take away your very own bodily fluid – your blood. I investigate the basics of bedbug natural history and examine how ordinary people, travellers, writers, scientists experienced bedbugs, how they coped with them and what they did against them. Leaving durable impressions in the form of fossils and ancient Greek theatre plays, bugs now represent everything that doesn’t work properly.  I explore how the fear of bedbug was institutionalised leading not only to the development of pest control and research laboratories but also to Bedbug becoming the Other – personal enemies, social classes, capitalism. I show how bedbugs were the centre of bitter fights between scientists, how their dangerous side are up-played and how their peculiar mating habit of ‘traumatic insemination’ released ambivalent public responses. Klaus Reinhardt
OT2 The bedbug in German fiction literature  The century of the bug. Perceptions of the bedbug in the 20th centuty German-speaking fiction literature. Antje Graf, Klaus Reinhardt
OT3  Project not disclosed Susanne Voigt
OT4 Stable isotope analysis to reconstruct migration of butterflies Matthias Nuss (Senckenberg), Burghardt (TU Dresden, Chemistry), Hahn (Vogelwarte Sempach), Klaus Reinhardt
OT5 Reproductive Isolation and Speciation Ecological Speciation and Mutation Order Speciation

Ecological speciation and mutation order speciation are two different processes leading to speciation caused by environmental factors. It is challenging to separate the two by just looking at the end product, the two species. Two separate them, the process needs to be captured ‘as it happens’ by comparing populations evolving to different environments and different populations that adapt to the same new environment.

Klaus Reinhardt, Howard Rundle (Univ Ottawa), Ralph Dobler
OT6 Phylogeny of bedbugs: Evolution of host specificity and trait diversification by sexual conflict Bedbugs (Cimicidae) are obligate blood-suckers, often host specialists, and well-known for their habit of traumatic insemination. Three of >100 bedbug species are human companions. Our molecular phylogeny of bedbugs reveals that bedbugs evolved >40 million years before their current hosts (bats), colonized bats twice, and frequently switched hosts thereafter. Generalist host use evolved on several occasions among specialist clades showing that specialization is not an evolutionary cul-de-sac. Humans were colonized three times. The common and tropical bedbugs, Cimex lectularius and C. hemipterus, split 30 MYA, rejecting the idea that they represent species that independently evolved on Homo sapiens and H. erectus. Bedbugs show a dramatic diversification of the female sexual defense organ against male traumatic insemination. We show that the heterotopy of this organ was constrained along the ventral-dorsal, but not along the left-right or the cranial-caudal body axis. Many people involved

Klaus Reinhardt, Steffen Roth (Univ Bergen)

OT7 Microbe communities in cricket reproductive organs

 

Barbara Eckel, Oliver Otti (Univ Bayreuth), Sara Bellinvia (Univ Bayreuth) Paul Johnston (FU Berlin), Klaus Reinhardt
OT8 Evolving microbe communities in Drosophila selection lines Ralph Dobler, Oliver Otti (Univ Bayreuth), Sara Bellinvia (Univ Bayreuth), Paul Johnston (FU Berlin), Klaus Reinhardt
OT9 Microbe communities in bedbug reproduction Wounding involves tissue disruption, bacterial entry and host defence strategies, the latter two may involve quorum communication in that either bacteria communicate by quorum sensing (QS), or inhibit the QS of other species (quorum sensing inhibition (QSI). Eukaryote host defence has recently been shown to also involve QSI after wounding. Eventually, the prokaryote and eukaryote processes must be separated in order to provide the full picture of quorum communication. Here we start by characterising one side of it, that between bacteria, associated with regular wounding in a novel insect model, the bedbug. In bedbugs, the female is being wounded during every mating by the male and several aspects of the microbial involvement of this wounding have been examined previously. Oliver Otti (Univ Bayreuth), Paul Johnston (FU Berlin), Katrin Hammerschmidt (Univ Kiel), Peter Deines (Univ Kiel), Klaus Reinhardt, Fritz Götze (Univ Tübingen)
OT10 Sexual dimorphism in the bedbug Sexual size dimorphism is near universal situation of eukaryotes. Two basic possibilities exist that the sexes differ in size: either the growth rate varies or the developmental rate. We experimentally disentangled these two processes in the bedbug. In addition, across species we test Rensch’s rule, the situation that with increasing body size difference, it is usually the female that is larger than the male. Side aspects of this project include a method to identify the sex of bedbug nymphs, and to examine sex-specific enzyme activities. Christin Froschauer, Reda Ahmed, Bernard Moussian, Oliver Otti, Dirk Mikolajewski (FU Berlin), Klaus Reinhardt
OT11
Neuropeptides of the bedbugs We present a comprehensive peptidomic description of the bed bug. There is little evidence that the peculiar biology of the bed bug is paralleled by a unique set of neuropeptides. Several peptide signalling pathways offer themselves as potential targets of new-generation insecticides. Klaus Reinhardt, Reinhard Predel (Univ Cologne), Christian Wegener (Univ Würzburg)
OT12  Epigenetic regulation of ovarian development
 Jeanette Kessler