Institut für Evolution und Ökologie
Welcome to the Plant Evolutionary Ecology group!

Our lab is fascinated by the natural diversity harboured within plant species, and the role that this intraspecific variation plays in biotic interactions and rapid adaptation to changing environments. We love experiments, invasive plants, and our amazing Herbarium Tubingense!

We are commited to curiosity-driven, open and collaborative science, and we strive to be a diverse and inclusive lab community. We also have fun, drink a lot of coffee, and try to be decent people.

More about our current team, our research and publications, and our teaching.

Group leader
Oliver Bossdorf

Martina Kahnert
+49 (0)7071 29-72610

Auf der Morgenstelle 5
72076 Tübingen
How to get to us

--- Lab News ---

Diversity and natural variation of TEs in field pennycress. Dario and Oliver coauthor a new paper in PLoS Genetics that describes the diversity of transposable elements in the genome of Thlaspi arvense, based on a survey of 280 accessions from 12 geographic regions. A fabulous collaboration with the Weigelworld through our EU training network EpiDiverse! (Feb '24)

In the final round of the excellence competition! Wow, a total of six initatives for new Excellence Strategy research clusters with involvement of University of Tübingen have been allowed to submit full proposals, and two of these with involvement of our group! What a huge (intermediate) success! Now back to work... More details in the Uni Tübingen press release. (Feb '24)

At higher latitudes, knotweed invests more into belowground secondary metabolites in China. Finally, the first collaborative knotweed paper with our wonderful Chinese colleagues is out in the Journal of Ecology! We measured six polyphenols in shoots and rhizomes of knotweed along a 2000 latitudinal transect. This excellent work was led by PhD student Jingwen Bi. (Jan '24)

Welcome to our new PhD student Sulochana Swathi Kannan! Sulochana will analyse the genetic diversity of South African proteas - 16 Protea species in the Western Cape - and its biological and environmental drivers, in  collaboration with the Landscape Ecology group (led by Frank Schurr) at University of Hohenheim, and with Henri Thomassen from our institute. (Dec '23)

Natural epigenetic variation in wild strawberries. Dario and Oliver coauthor a new paper in the New Phytologist, which finds (partial) heritability and climate association of DNA methylation variation in wild strawberries. The study was led by Iris Sammarco and Vitek Latzel from the Institute of Botany, CAS. Another product of our fabulous EU training network EpiDiverse! (Dec '23)

Finally, after years, we meet colleagues and friends again in Shanghai! Ramona, Madalin and Oliver visit Fudan University, where they discuss science, give seminars, explore the Chongming Dongtan Nature Reserve, and enjoy Chinese food. Back row: Dr. Yaolin Guo, Prof. Xiaoyun Pan, PhD students Lei Zhang and Peipei Cao, Dr. Zhiyong Liao. Front row: Ramona, Madalin, Oliver, Prof. Bo Li, Prof. Jihua Wu, Prof. Ruiting Ju. (Dec '23)

Oliver returns from his sabbatical in California. After six months in California, where he visited the amazing Moi Lab at Carnegie Plant Science in Stanford, Oliver and his family return to Tübingen. Thank you Moi and Moi Lab (now at Berkeley) for the inspiring time! And thank you Madalin for running our lab during this time! (Aug '23)

Resurrection experiment show rapid plant evolution. New paper in Oecologia shows that compared their ancestors 'resurrected' from seed banks plant populations have evolved different flowering times, and these changes are correlated with the amount of climate change the populations experienced. This is the final PhD chapter of our former lab member Robert Rauschkolb. Check out what Robert is doing now! (Jul '23)

Plants evolve during seed production for ecological restoration. Oliver coauthors a paper in PNAS, together with former postdoc Anna Bucharova, that tracked phenotypic evolution of 19 plant species during cultivation for restoration seed production. Result: genetic variation is decreasing and phenotypes of several species evolve towards a 'domestication syndrome' (taller plants that flower simultaneously and do not shatter their seeds). (May '23)

Litter decomposition of invasive plant versus its native competitor. New paper in Journal of Biogeography shows that litter of invasive Spartina along the Eastern coast of China is tastier to woodlice and mudflat crabs than litter of native Phragmites. With faster litter decomposition, Spartina invasion will alter nutrient cycling and ecosystem dynamics. Wonderful collaboration with visiting PhD student Yaolin Guo and colleagues from Fudan University. (Mar '23)

Parental effects are common but complex in Arabidopsis. Madalin and Oliver co-author a new paper in the New Phytologist which tested for transgenerational effects of 24 different environmental stresses in A. thaliana. We found that such effects are common and sometimes strong, but they are genotype-dependent and often act non-additively.  (Feb '23)

Extension for our Hohenheim-Tübingen Protea seed grant. We are delighted that the universities of Hohenheim/Tübingen extended the seed grant for our collaboration with the group of Frank Schurr. To study genetic diversity and climate adaptation, we will establish a common garden with many geographic origins of 20 species of South African proteas in the Western Cape. (Jan '23)