Current project

Current Position: Postdoctoral Researcher Dpt. of Terrestrial Ecology, Technical University of Munich, Freising, Germany

At present, I live and work in Freising, Germany. I am a postdoctoral group leader, with a university position in the department of Terrestrial Ecology, led by Prof. Wolfgang Weisser.

My team and I currently work on various exciting projects covering different aspects of plant-mediated interactions.

Some of our current projects:

We investigate the role of plant chemodiversity in shaping insect communities, using the tansy model system.

We investigate the interactions between beneficial microbes, plants, and their pests, particularly in the barley model system.

We investigate interactions between fungal pathogens, fungicides, microbial endophytes, and aphids in the barley model system.

We investigate the ecological effects of artificial light at night (ALAN) on plants and the phytobiome.

Our experimental work ranges from work in petri dishes to manipulative field experiments, and everything in between.

Feel free to get in touch to discuss collaborations or to ask for more specific information.

PhD – Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Dpt. of Terrestrial Ecology/Leiden University: Soil legacy effects on aboveground plant-insect interactions

Plants, during their life time, can have strong effects on the soil they grow in. Some accumulate pathogens, others may accumulate more beneficial organisms. You could say that plants leave some sort of ‘microbial footprint’ in the soil. When plants disappear (naturally, by death, or less naturally, by removal) these footprints may remain present in the soil, which can influence other plants that grow in the same soil. Again, this can be in any direction… So, what has been growing on a certain soil in the past, determines the performance of plants that come later.

Now this project would not be my project if it simply stopped there…

Soil microbial footprints, or legacy effects, may affect the growth of plants. Fairly straightforward, and quite easy to grasp. To make it a bit more complicated, they also can alter chemistry of the plant. So, basically, plants could become more, or less tasty, or nutritionally valuable, just because of the living soil they grow in. As you can imagine, this can affect plant-associated herbivores, via changes in the plant. Pretty cool, right?

Very recently, we also discovered that these soil microbes do not only affect the insect herbivores via plants. Nope, they may also directly influence their microbiome. This finding opens a whole new can of worms and as a biologist, I like it when findings fire up my curiosity. We are now working on various questions that puzzled us, and likely this will remain in the institute as our team’s legacy effect :).

I have studied these concepts heavily in the past years. Some work is still in the pipeline ‘somewhere’ and we are also working on writing some exciting papers on interactions between microbes, plants and insects.

Find my thesis here!