Research themes

Six research themes are currently running in the lab:

1. (Meta)Barcoding Soil Biodiversity

Use both traditional morphological identification & next generation sequencing to determine and delineate new and common soil animal species

The pipetting robot for processing large amounts of samples

Junggebauer et al. 2021; PeerJ

2. Evolution of Mites & Springtails

Reconstruct phylogenies and explore trait evolution of Acari & Collembola, two of the most ancient soil animal taxa

Radiation of oribatid mites started early in the Devonian and was accompanied by shifts in body size and body form

Schaefer & Caruso 2019; Communications Biology

3. Community, Trait & Phylogenetic Ecology (CTPE)

Apply molecular phylogenetic methods to answer community ecological questions regarding assembly processes and species coexistence mechanisms (e.g. filtering, partitioning, dispersal & speciation)

The CTPE conceptual diagram for studying assembly processes of community from both ecological & evolutionary points of view

Xie, Chen et al. 2022; Journal of Biogeography

4. Phylogeography & Cryptic Species

Study historical & spatial processes responsible for past & present geographic distributions of intraspecific genetic lineages of oribatid mites and Collembola

Relationships of lineages of the springtail Ceratophysella denticulata in Europe derived from (a) Bayesian analysis of sequence data of three genes. (b) Sampling locations and geographic distribution of COI lineages

von Saltzwedel et al. 2016; BMC Evolutionary Biology

5. Who Eats Whom – Molecular Gut Contents

Detect instant food DNA from consumers using diagnostic PCR & next generation sequencing

Frequency of detection of nematodes Acrobeloides buetschliiPanagrellus redivivusPlectus minimus Plectus velox in soil mite species in no-choice laboratory experiments

Heidemann et al. 2014; Oikos

6. The ‘Sexy’ Genomics

Analyze and compare genetic variances between sexual & asexual oribatid mite species to understand selection processes of reproductive modes

Nuclear haplotype trees expected under long-term obligate asexual and sexual reproduction

Brandt et al. 2021; PNAS