• Species collection
I applied several methods for my work and tried to collect as much specimens by myself. This includes sampling of marine organisms (benthic, pelagic and meiofauna by Van Veen grabber, multicore, dredging, scuba diving) but also terrestrial species (diverse netting methods, berlese- malaise- pitfall-traps). My motivation to work in evolutionary biology is also driven by the curiosity in diversity and biology of species and to understand their biology and ecology better. This fascination I try to pass over also to my students, which starts with species collection.
• Laboratory work
During my projects I worked extensively in dry and wet labs. Classic DNA based molecular lab work started with primer design, PCR amplification and sequencing of gene fragments for single and multi gene analyses. I worked on old LI COR and ABI 377 plate sequencers and established and used later on sequencing protocols on different Beckman Coulter capillary sequencers. Starting with EST and later next generation sequencing data my laboratory skills were extended to RNA based work using different types of RNA extraction (Trizol and kit based) methods and cDNA library amplification and sequencing.
• Phylogenetics / Phylogenomics
My background and original training is in molecular evolutionary biology and thus I was and am involved in the application and constant improvement of molecular based methods. This includes single, multi gene and transcriptome based (phylogenomic) analyses. Currently I extent this – also particular in the context of venomics – to genomic data and morphological traits. In phylogenomics and genomics I have strong collaborations with consortia such as 1KITE and i5K to tackle this challenge and to push boundaries for large scale data analyses.
• Functional morphology
The evolution and anatomy of venom delivery systems for neglected or obsure venomous taxa is often unclear, particular for invertebrate species. To understand the anatomy of venom delivery systems better and to enlight their possible functional morphology I apply state of the art synchrotron based miro-computer tomography 3D reconstructions. Of course open source software is used for that.
• Transcriptomics (in venomics)
I utilize transcriptomics for classic phylogenomics but recently in particular for venomics. To understand venom evolution transcriptome data is used to analyze gene expression levels in combination with protomic data. In most cases for small invertebrates the workflow (von Reumont etal. 2017) differs slightly and a differential gene expression applying replicates of venom gland transcriptome samples is not possible.
I am interested in genomics from a twofold perspective. Within a phylogenomic context I like to understand general evolution of pancrustaceans for example the transition from marine to terrestrial habitats. Linked to venomics genome data of venomous species is important to understand the processes that drive evolution of toxins. I have strong collaborations within the i5K initiative, the ZMB at the Researchmuseum Alexander Koenig Bonn and in LOEWE TBG (LOEWE Center for Translational Biodiversitygenomics) to work on genomics of hymenopteran and pancrustacean species. Several species are currently being sequenced on PacBio, Nanopore and Illumina platforms.
Currently I have strong collaborations to analyze proteome data from venom glands with experts in Australia (Eivind Undheim) and France (Sebastien Dutertre). Recently a top notch Orbitrap system is accessible for us at the JLU via a collaboration with the group of Guenther Lochnit. One future goal is to establish proteomics also in my own working group to tackle venom evolution of some species complementary with transcriptomics and genomics. An extended field in proteomics is the synthesis and test for activity of putative toxins, which is important to apply for later projects and to understand functional toxin evolution better. The pipelines for that are currently established in the new Animal Venomics group in Gießen.