Possible topics for BSc and MSc theses:

  1. Evolution of endosymbiosis: The evolution of endosymbiosis involves several cellular and genetic changes, and we have isolated lineages from experimental evolutionary studies that suggest that endosymbiosis can evolve de novo under certain conditions. We are now studying these lineages in detail using imaging techniques, experimental assays and transcriptome and genome analyses. Important questions we want to ask are: How diverse is the symbiont population inside a host cell? Can the host distinguish between different symbiont lineages and what cellular processes might be involved? Does endosymbiosis confer a fitness advantage or is it a random event?
  2. Diversity and temperature gradients: One of the global patterns observed in ecology is the latitudinal diversity gradient. We will use experimental evolution to test the postulated mechanisms driving this pattern.
  3. Microplastics and plankton communities: A recent project showed that the presence of microplastics alters predator-prey interactions between phytoplankton and zooplankton, with consequences for the persistence of the zooplankton population over time and the genetic diversity of the phytoplankton population. We want to extend this work by looking at multi-species phytoplankton communities. Specific questions are: How does the presence of microplastics affect community assembly? Does the presence of microplastics alter resilience to external disturbances?
  4. Revived diversity from Lake Constance: We have resurrected phytoplankton from Lake Constance from several decades ago (from sediment cores) and found a high phenotypic and genotypic diversity within species. In order to test the potential function of this diversity and possible mechanisms involved in its maintenance, we now want to compete these isolates under different conditions.
  5. Mesocosm experiments: We are developing a novel setup to perform large-scale experiments with natural populations using outdoor tanks with automated monitoring of plankton communities. We are currently optimising the protocol for plankton community monitoring using automated imaging and machine learning

Potential topics Bsc and MsC Abschlussarbeiten (Education):

  1. Experimente in der Schule zur Veranschaulichung grundlegender biologischer Prozesse und zur Erklärung des wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnisgewinns (Entwicklung der Experimente, Zusammenstellung der Informationen für die Schüler)
  2. Living Lab/Real World Lab: Global Change in the Artic

If that sounds like the project you always wanted to work on, please get in touch with us!