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Integrative Evolutionary Biology

Banner Evolutionary Biology
Ralf J. Sommer
Administrative Assistant:
Kostadinka Krause
+49 7071 601-441
+49 7071 601-498
Alphabetical List | Alumni


Life on Earth resulted in an astonishing diversity of form and phenotype. But our understanding on how this diversity is generated as a result of historical processes is still limited. We use a highly interdisciplinary approach that integrates development, ecology and population genetics to unravel the mechanistic changes that give rise to evolutionary alterations and novelty (Sommer, 2009). For this to be achieved well-selected model organisms with a sophisticated analytical toolkit for functional investigations have to be developed. We have established the free-living nematode Pristionchus pacificus as a model system in evolutionary biology. P. pacificus combines in a unique manner, laboratory studies building on genetic, genomic and transgenic tools with field work in ecology and population genetics. Read more


Review Articles on Integrative Evolutionary Biology

Sommer, R. J. & McGaughran, A. (2013):
The nematode Pristionchus pacificus as a model system for integrative studies in evolutionary biology. Mol. Ecol., 22, 2380-2393.

Sommer R. J. (2009):
The future of evo-devo: model systems and evolutionary theory. Nature Rev. Genetics, 10, 416-422.

Sommer, R. J. & Ogawa, A. (2011): Hormone signaling and phenotypic plasticity in nematode development and evolution. Curr. Biol., 21, R758-R766.

Sommer, R. J. & Streit, A. (2011): Comparative genetics and genomics in nematodes: Genome structure, development and life style. Ann. Rev. Genet., 45, 1-20.

Dieterich, C. & Sommer R. J. (2009): How to become a parasite – lessons from the genomes of nematodes. Trends Genet., 25, 203-209.

Sommer, R. J. (2008): Homology and the hierarchy of biological systems. BioEssays, 30, 653-658.

Departmental Project Leaders

Parasitic Nematodes
Adrian Streit
Matthias Herrmann