News: The first new team member, Janina Diehl, is starting her PhD in Würzburg!

Working towards a better understanding of

Cooperation in Insects

Sociality and mutualisms in Insects

Our research group is working towards a better understanding of the evolutionary and ecological drivers that shape intra- and interspecific interactions in insects. More specifically, we study cooperation and sociality in insects as well as symbioses between insects and microbial organisms. A major focus of our research lies on unraveling the mechanisms that have repeatedly selected for sociality and fungus farming in bark and ambrosia beetles.

To this end, we apply methods from evolutionary ecology, entomology, microbiology, and a wide range of state-of-the-art techniques from molecular and chemical ecology.

Interactions in Insects
Ambrosia-fungus
Ambrosia Beetles

Microbial symbionts and fungiculture

Ambrosia beetles grow their own food fungi. But how do they control what symbionts live in their fungal gardens?

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Bark Beetles

Symbionts of parasitic species

Some bark beetles inhabit living trees without killing them. What bacteria and fungi help them to overwhelm tree defences?

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Sociality
Ambrosia Beetles

Social immunity

Ambrosia beetles live in social societies. How do they cooperatively fight pathogens within their nests?

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Ambrosia Beetles

Biology of fungal symbionts

Ambrosia beetles live in close associations with fungi. Do these fungi reproduce sexually or asexually, and how are their spores transmitted between nests?

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Coffe Berry Borer

Social behaviour and Biocontrol

The coffee berry borer is the major pest of coffee worldwide. What is the life cycle of this poorly understood species and how does it behave?

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Ambrosia Beetles

Introduction of non-native species

Due to international wood trading, ambrosia beetles are easily transported to areas outside their original range. How do they affect native beetles in their new habitats?

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Galling Aphids

Effects on host plant symbionts

Galling aphids change the defense chemistry of their host trees. How does this affect the fungi that live within the tree's leaves?

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Cassida beetles

Trophic interactions with leaf symbionts

Do beetles feeding on thistle leaves prefer plants which are infected by fungi?

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What we do

Background

Social behaviour of insects

Ambrosia beetles live in social societies and cooperatively farm their own food. Even the larvae help.

More info coming soon!

Insect-Fungus Mutualisms

Different fungi and bacteria inhabit the nests of ambrosia beetles - a complex community of different symbionts.   

More info coming soon!

Evolution of Agriculture

Insects started farming fungi 30-100 million years before human agriculture evolved. What can we learn from insect farmers?

More info coming soon!

Bark beetle dynamics

During a breakout, bark beetles can kill the majority of trees in a forest. But their population dynamics are still poorly understood.

More info coming soon!

Ambrosia Beetles

These beetles are fascinating animals for two reasons:  First, they live in social societies, and second, they actively farm fungi for food.

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Bark Beetles

Bark beetles occur in every region of the world. They play a key role in many forest ecosystems.

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Galling Aphids

These aphids not only suck at their host plant. They also force it to build a home for them!

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Tortoise Beetles

With their specialized feet these beetles strongly adhere their flat body to leaves. Larvae use their feces to build a shield.

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Coffee Berry Borer

This beetle is so tiny that it can spend most of its life within a single coffee bean. It is the most devastating pest of coffee worldwide.

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