Department of Molecular Ecology

The overarching objective of the research in the department is to manipulate ecological interactions in nature to identify traits that are demonstrably important for an organism’s Darwinian fitness in the complexity of interactions that occur in nature.  We focus on plant-mediated interactions and have developed ecological expression systems with two native plants that have a rich suite of ecological interactions, Wild Tobacco (Nicotiana attenuata) and Black Nightshade (Solanum nigrum), as well as the herbivores that feed on them, the fungi and bacteria that interact with their roots, and their floral visitors. We have developed molecular (transformation systems, VIGs silencing, cDNA and genomic libraries, cDNA and oligo microarrays, real time RT-PCR, microsatellites, SAGE, SSH, DD-RTPCR display ), analytical (high throughput HPLC and UPLC--MS (DAD, ion trap, TOF, triple Quad), GC-MS (quad,ion trap) and GCxGC-TOF, z-Nose) and ecological (field stations in Utah and Jena, insect cultures, and natural history expertise) tools to rigorously manipulate the genetic basis for ecological sophistication in these two plant systems.

Interview: Latest Thinking with Prof. Ian Thomas Baldwin

(Please install the Adobe Flash player to view this video. Alternatively, you can download the file here.)

iBiology Talks

Baldwin (2016). Studying a Plant’s Ecological Interactions in the Genomics Era: The Story of Nicotiana attenuata. Video Talks on ibiology/iBioSeminars.

  1. A Short Biased History of an Interdisciplinary Field
  2. Nicotina attenuata’s Responses to Attack from a Nicotine-tolerant Herbivore
  3. Plant’s Perspective on Seeds, Sex, and Microbes

Prof. Ian T. Baldwin

Prof. Dr. Ian T. Baldwin
+49 (0) 3641 57 1100

Evelyn Claußen

Department Assistant:
Evelyn Claußen
+49 (0) 3641 57 1101

The Project Groups

Project group: Belowground signaling

Dr. Sang Gyu Kim’s group is the central part of the ERC-funded CLOCKWORK GREEN project.  Ecological performance is all about timing, and the endogenous clock of plants that entrains metabolic and behavioral rhythms and allows plants to anticipate fitness-determining events is rapidly being characterized. more »

Dr. Meredith Schuman

The iDiv Biodiveristät Projektgruppe: Ökologische Funktionen pflanzlicher Genen"/"iDiv Biodiversity Project Group: Ecological functions of plant genes investigates the emergent properties of variation in plant traits controlled by single functional genes. more »

Plutella xylostella © MPI CE / H. Vogel

Dr. Karin Groten

A variety of fungi from the phylum Glomeromycota, so-called arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, establish symbiotic relationships with most herbaceous plants in ecosystems all over the world. more »

Dr. Shuqing Xu’s group is working with on-going Nicotiana attenuata genome sequencing project to understanding the genetic and genomic mechanisms of how N. attenuata evolved its remarkable adaptations more »

This group studies the ecology of responses of Lepidopteran herbivore larvae to N. attenuata’s specialized metabolites (nicotine and chlorogenic acid) using Manduca sexta as a specialist herbivore model and Heliothis virescens as a generalist herbivore model. more »

This group is part of the ERC-funded CLOCKWORK GREEN project. Obtaining the broadest overview of biochemical changes that occur during ecological interactions is essential for an understanding of the molecular organization of plant responses to environmental signals. more »

Important Link

Baldwin (Video Talk on iBioMagazine): Making Scientific Writing Painless