The goal of this research is to identify commonalities as well as adaptive and nonadaptive genetic reconfigurations that are associated with the transition from an autotrophic to a holoparasitic way of life within the Orobanchaceae.
Point of no return: Adaptations along the shift from photo-autotrophy to heterotrophy
Niche shifting to a permanent heterotrophic lifestyle will evolve highly adapted C. reinhardtii populations, whose specialist individuals exhibit an increased fitness under zero-light conditions compared to the original myxotrophs that experience no-light environments only temporarily. The function of genes and protein complexes conveying photo-autotrophy will be relaxed of purifying selection in the heterotrophic selection line, because genes for photosynthesis are of no more use.
We will reconstruct the biogeographical and host-ecological history of Orobanchaceae, test if host or abiotic environmental preferences, or both, have drive their diversification, and analyze the evolution of gene diversity en route to a fully parasitic lifestyle.
An integrated diagnostics workflow to detect parasitic weeds in environmental samples
This research program aims to develop an integrated diagnostics procedure based on DNA (meta)barcodes extracted from genomic resources of wild and weedy parasites throughout the biodiversity range of Orobanchaceae
This project analyzes the molecular evolution and function of gene complexes involved in flowering time regulation of Orobanchaceae. We will evaluate whether a shift from annual to perennial hosts, or vice versa, alters the life history preferences of the parasites.