Hinrich Schulenburg

Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

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Publications (49)243.79 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Pathogen infection can activate multiple signaling cascades that ultimately alter the abundance of molecules in cells. This change can be measured both at the transcript and protein level. Studies analyzing the immune response at both levels are, however, rare. Here, we compare transcriptome and proteome data generated after infection of the nematode and model organism Caenorhabditis elegans with the Gram-positive pathogen Bacillus thuringiensis. Our analysis revealed a high overlap between abundance changes of corresponding transcripts and gene products, especially for genes encoding C-type lectin domain-containing proteins, indicating their particular role in worm immunity. We additionally identified a unique signature at the proteome level, suggesting that the C. elegans response to infection is shaped by changes beyond transcription. Such effects appear to be influenced by AMP-activated protein kinases (AMPKs), which may thus represent previously unknown regulators of C. elegans immune defense. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.
    Developmental and comparative immunology. 02/2015;
  • Carola Petersen, Philipp Dirksen, Hinrich Schulenburg
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    ABSTRACT: Functional information about the large majority of the genes is still lacking in the classical eukaryotic model species Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans, and Mus musculus. Because many of these genes are likely to be important in natural settings, considering explicit ecological information should increase our knowledge of gene function. Using C. elegans as an example, we discuss the importance of biotic factors as a driving force in shaping the composition and structure of the nematode genome. We highlight examples for which consideration of ecological information and natural variation have been key to the identification of novel, unexpected gene functions, and use these examples to define future research avenues for the classical genetic model taxa. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Trends in Genetics 01/2015; · 11.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pathogens can infect their hosts through different routes. For studying the consequences for host resistance, we here used the entomopathogen Bacillus thuringiensis and the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum for oral and systemic (i. e. pricking the cuticle) experimental infection. In order to characterize the molecular mechanisms underpinning the two different infection routes, the transcriptomes of beetles of two different T. castaneum populations ¿ one recently collected population (Cro1) and a commonly used laboratory strain (SB) ¿ were analyzed using a next generation RNA sequencing approach.
    BMC Genomics 06/2014; 15(1):445. · 4.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Evolutionary adaptation can be extremely fast, especially in response to high selection intensities. A prime example is the surge of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. The genomic underpinnings of such rapid changes may provide information on the genetic processes that enhance fast responses and the particular trait functions under selection. Here, we use experimentally evolved Escherichia coli for a detailed dissection of the genomics of rapid antibiotic resistance evolution. Our new analyses demonstrate that amplification of a sequence region containing several known antibiotic resistance genes represents a fast genomic response mechanism under high antibiotic stress, here exerted by drug combination. In particular, higher dosage of such antibiotic combinations coincided with higher copy number of the sequence region. The amplification appears to be evolutionarily costly, since amplification levels rapidly dropped after removal of the drugs. Our results suggest that amplification is a scalable process, as copy number rapidly changes in response to the selective pressure encountered. Moreover, repeated patterns of convergent evolution were found across the experimentally evolved bacterial populations, including those with lower antibiotic selection intensities. Intriguingly, convergent evolution was identified on different organizational levels, ranging from the above sequence amplification, high variant frequencies in specific genes, prevalence of individual non-synonymous mutations to the unusual repeated occurrence of a particular synonymous mutation in Glycine codons. We conclude that constrained evolutionary trajectories underlie rapid adaptation to antibiotics. Of the identified genomic changes, sequence amplification seems to represent the most potent, albeit costly genomic response mechanism to high antibiotic stress.
    Genome Biology and Evolution 05/2014; · 4.53 Impact Factor
  • Gunther Jansen, Camilo Barbosa, Hinrich Schulenburg
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    ABSTRACT: Antibiotic treatments increasingly fail due to rapid dissemination of drug resistance. Comparative genomics of clinical isolates highlights the role of de novo adaptive mutations and horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in the acquisition of resistance. Yet it cannot fully describe the selective pressures and evolutionary trajectories that yielded today's problematic strains. Experimental evolution offers a compelling addition to such studies because the combination of replicated experiments under tightly controlled conditions with genomics of intermediate time points allows real-time reconstruction of evolutionary trajectories. Recent studies thus established causal links between antibiotic deployment therapies and the course and timing of mutations, the cost of resistance and the likelihood of compensating mutations. They particularly underscored the importance of long-term effects. Similar investigations incorporating horizontal gene transfer (HGT) are wanting, likely because of difficulties associated with its integration into experiments. In this review, we describe current advances in experimental evolution of antibiotic resistance and reflect on ways to incorporate horizontal gene transfer into the approach. We contend it provides a powerful tool for systematic and highly controlled dissection of evolutionary paths to antibiotic resistance that needs to be taken into account for the development of sustainable anti-bacterial treatment strategies.
    Drug resistance updates: reviews and commentaries in antimicrobial and anticancer chemotherapy 01/2014; · 12.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a major model organism in diverse biological areas and well studied under laboratory conditions, little is known about its ecology. Therefore, characterization of the species' natural habitats should provide a new perspective on its otherwise well-studied biology. The currently best characterized populations are in France, demonstrating that C. elegans prefers nutrient- and microorganism-rich substrates such as rotting fruits and decomposing plant matter. In order to extend these findings, we sampled C. elegans continuously across 1.5 years from rotting apples and compost heaps in three North German locations. C. elegans was found throughout summer and autumn in both years. It shares its habitat with the related nematode species C. remanei, which could thus represent an important competitor for a similar ecological niche. The two species were isolated from the same site, but rarely the same substrate sample. In fact, C. elegans was mainly found on compost and C. remanei on rotten apples, possibly suggesting niche separation. The occurrence of C. elegans itself was related to environmental humidity and rain, although the correlation was significant for only one sampling site each. Additional associations between nematode prevalence and abiotic parameters could not be established. Taken together, our findings vary from the previous results for French C. elegans populations in that the considered German populations always coexisted with the congeneric species C. remanei (rather than C. briggsae as in France) and that C. elegans prevalence can associate with humidity and rain (rather than temperature, as suggested for French populations). Consideration of additional locations and time points is thus essential for full appreciation of the nematode's natural ecology.
    BMC Ecology 01/2014; 14(1):4.
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    ABSTRACT: Host-parasite coevolution is generally believed to follow Red Queen dynamics consisting of ongoing oscillations in the frequencies of interacting host and parasite alleles. This belief is founded on previous theoretical work, which assumes infinite or constant population size. To what extent are such sustained oscillations realistic? Here, we use a related mathematical modeling approach to demonstrate that ongoing Red Queen dynamics is unlikely. In fact, they collapse rapidly when two critical pieces of realism are acknowledged: (i) population size fluctuations, caused by the antagonism of the interaction in concordance with the Lotka-Volterra relationship; and (ii) stochasticity, acting in any finite population. Together, these two factors cause fast allele fixation. Fixation is not restricted to common alleles, as expected from drift, but also seen for originally rare alleles under a wide parameter space, potentially facilitating spread of novel variants. Our results call for a paradigm shift in our understanding of host-parasite coevolution, strongly suggesting that these are driven by recurrent selective sweeps rather than continuous allele oscillations.
    BMC Evolutionary Biology 11/2013; 13(1):254. · 3.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Analyzing and understanding the relationship between genotypes and phenotypes is at the heart of genetics. Research in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has been instrumental for unravelling genotype-phenotype relations and has important implications for understanding the biology of mammals. But almost all studies, including forward and reverse genetic screens, are limited by investigations in only one canonical genotype. This hampers the detection and functional analysis of allelic variants which play a key role in controlling many complex traits. It is therefore essential to explore the full potential of the natural genetic variation and evolutionary context of the genotype-phenotype map in wild C. elegans populations. We used multiple wild C. elegans populations freshly isolated from local sites to investigate the gene sequence polymorphisms and a multitude of phenotypes including the transcriptome, fitness and behavioural traits. The genotype, transcriptome and a number of fitness traits showed a direct link with the original site of the strains. The separation between the isolation sites was prevalent on all chromosomes however chromosome V contributed the most to this variation. These results were supported by a differential food preference of the wild isolates for naturally co-existing bacterial species. Comparing polymorphic genes between the populations to a set of genes extracted from 19 different studies on gene expression in C. elegans exposed to biotic and abiotic factors, such as bacteria, osmotic pressure and temperature, revealed a significant enrichment for genes involved in gene-environment interactions and protein degradation. We show that wild C. elegans populations are characterized by gene-environment signatures and have unlocked a wealth of genotype-phenotype relations for the first time. Studying natural isolates provides a treasure trove in addition to current research in C. elegans which covers only a diminutive part of the myriad of genotype-phenotype relations which are present in the wild.
    BMC Biology 08/2013; 11(1):93. · 7.43 Impact Factor
  • R D Schulte, C Makus, H Schulenburg
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    ABSTRACT: Host-parasite coevolution is predicted to favour genetic diversity and the underlying mechanisms (e.g. sexual reproduction and, more generally, genetic exchange), because diversity enhances the antagonists' potential for rapid adaptation. To date, this prediction has mainly been tested and confirmed for the host. It should similarly apply to the parasite. Indeed, our previous work demonstrated that experimental coevolution between the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and its microparasite Bacillus thuringiensis selects for genetic diversity in both antagonists. For the parasite, the previous analysis was based on plasmid-encoded toxin gene markers. Thus, it was restricted to a very small part of the bacterial genome and did not cover the main chromosome, which harbours a large variety of virulence factors. Here, we present new data for chromosomal gene markers of B. thuringiensis and combine this information with the previous results on plasmid-encoded toxins. Our new results demonstrate that, in comparison with the control treatment, coevolution with a host similarly leads to higher levels of genetic diversity in the bacterial chromosome, thus indicating the relevance of chromosomal genes for coevolution. Furthermore, the frequency of toxin gene gain is significantly elevated during coevolution, highlighting the importance of horizontal gene transfer as a diversity-generating mechanism. In conclusion, our study emphasizes the strong influence of antagonistic coevolution on parasite genetic diversity and gene exchange.
    Journal of Evolutionary Biology 07/2013; · 3.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Conventional wisdom holds that the best way to treat infection with antibiotics is to 'hit early and hit hard'. A favoured strategy is to deploy two antibiotics that produce a stronger effect in combination than if either drug were used alone. But are such synergistic combinations necessarily optimal? We combine mathematical modelling, evolution experiments, whole genome sequencing and genetic manipulation of a resistance mechanism to demonstrate that deploying synergistic antibiotics can, in practice, be the worst strategy if bacterial clearance is not achieved after the first treatment phase. As treatment proceeds, it is only to be expected that the strength of antibiotic synergy will diminish as the frequency of drug-resistant bacteria increases. Indeed, antibiotic efficacy decays exponentially in our five-day evolution experiments. However, as the theory of competitive release predicts, drug-resistant bacteria replicate fastest when their drug-susceptible competitors are eliminated by overly-aggressive treatment. Here, synergy exerts such strong selection for resistance that an antagonism consistently emerges by day 1 and the initially most aggressive treatment produces the greatest bacterial load, a fortiori greater than if just one drug were given. Whole genome sequencing reveals that such rapid evolution is the result of the amplification of a genomic region containing four drug-resistance mechanisms, including the acrAB efflux operon. When this operon is deleted in genetically manipulated mutants and the evolution experiment repeated, antagonism fails to emerge in five days and antibiotic synergy is maintained for longer. We therefore conclude that unless super-inhibitory doses are achieved and maintained until the pathogen is successfully cleared, synergistic antibiotics can have the opposite effect to that intended by helping to increase pathogen load where, and when, the drugs are found at sub-inhibitory concentrations.
    PLoS Biology 04/2013; 11(4):e1001540. · 11.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Janthinobacteria commonly form biofilms on eukaryotic hosts and are known to synthesize antibacterial and antifungal compounds. Janthinobacterium sp. HH01 was recently isolated from an aquatic environment and its genome sequence was established. The genome consists of a single chromosome and reveals a size of 7.10 Mb, being the largest janthinobacterial genome so far known. Approximately 80% of the 5,980 coding sequences (CDSs) present in the HH01 genome could be assigned putative functions. The genome encodes a wealth of secretory functions and several large clusters for polyketide biosynthesis. HH01 also encodes a remarkable number of proteins involved in resistance to drugs or heavy metals. Interestingly, the genome of HH01 apparently lacks the N-acylhomoserine lactone (AHL)-dependent signaling system and the AI-2-dependent quorum sensing regulatory circuit. Instead it encodes a homologue of the Legionella- and Vibrio-like autoinducer (lqsA/cqsA) synthase gene which we designated jqsA. The jqsA gene is linked to a cognate sensor kinase (jqsS) which is flanked by the response regulator jqsR. Here we show that a jqsA deletion has strong impact on the violacein biosynthesis in Janthinobacterium sp. HH01 and that a jqsA deletion mutant can be functionally complemented with the V. cholerae cqsA and the L. pneumophila lqsA genes.
    PLoS ONE 02/2013; 8(2):e55045. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bacillus thuringiensis is an insect pathogen that has been used widely as a biopesticide. Here, we report the genome sequence of strain 407 Cry-, which is used to study the genetic determinants of pathogenicity. The genome consists of a 5.5-Mb chromosome and nine plasmids, including a novel 502-kb megaplasmid.
    Genome Announcements 01/2013; 1(1).
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    ABSTRACT: The Red Queen hypothesis proposes that coevolving parasites select for outcrossing in the host. Outcrossing relies on males, which often show lower immune investment due to, for example, sexual selection. Here, we demonstrate that such sex differences in immunity interfere with parasite-mediated selection for outcrossing. Two independent coevolution experiments with Caenorhabditis elegans and its microparasite Bacillus thuringiensis produced decreased yet stable frequencies of outcrossing male hosts. A subsequent systematic analysis verified that male C. elegans suffered from a direct selective disadvantage under parasite pressure (i.e. lower resistance, decreased sexual activity, increased escape behaviour), which can reduce outcrossing and thus male frequencies. At the same time, males offered an indirect selective benefit, because male-mediated outcrossing increased offspring resistance, thus favouring male persistence in the evolving populations. As sex differences in immunity are widespread, such interference of opposing selective constraints is likely of central importance during host adaptation to a coevolving parasite.
    Ecology Letters 01/2013; · 13.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Medical and pharmacological communities have long searched for antimicrobial drugs that increase their effect when used in combination, an interaction known as synergism. These drug combinations, however, impose selective pressures in favour of multi-drug resistance and as a result, the benefit of synergy may be lost after only a few bacterial generations. Furthermore, there is experimental evidence that antibiotic treatment can disrupt colonization resistance by shifting the balance between enteropathogenic and commensal bacteria in favour of the pathogens, with the potential to increase the risk of infections. So, we ask, what is the best way of using synergistic drugs? We pose an evolutionary model of commensal and pathogenic bacteria competing in a continuous culture device for a single limiting carbon source under the effect of two bacteriostatic and synergistic antibiotics. This model allows us to evaluate the efficacy of different drug deployment strategies and, using ideas from optimal control theory, to understand whether there are circumstances in which other types of therapy might be favoured over those based on fixed-dose multi-drug combinations. Our main result can be stated thus: the optimal deployment of synergistic antibiotics to remove a pathogen in the presence of commensal bacteria in our model system occurs not in combination, but by deploying them sequentially.
    Journal of The Royal Society Interface 05/2012; 9(75):2488-502. · 3.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Using optimal control theory as the basic theoretical tool, we investigate the efficacy of different antibiotic treatment protocols in the most exacting of circumstances, described as follows. Viewing a continuous culture device as a proxy for a much more complex host organism, we first inoculate the device with a single bacterial species and deem this the 'commensal' bacterium of our host. We then force the commensal to compete for a single carbon source with a rapidly evolving and fitter 'pathogenic bacterium', the latter so-named because we wish to use a bacteriostatic antibiotic to drive the pathogen toward low population densities. Constructing a mathematical model to mimic the biology, we do so in such a way that the commensal would be eventually excluded by the pathogen if no antibiotic treatment were given to the host or if the antibiotic were over-deployed. Indeed, in our model, all fixed-dose antibiotic treatment regimens will lead to the eventual loss of the commensal from the host proxy. Despite the obvious gravity of the situation for the commensal bacterium, we show by example that it is possible to design drug deployment protocols that support the commensal and reduce the pathogen load. This may be achieved by appropriately fluctuating the concentration of drug in the environment; a result that is to be anticipated from the theory optimal control where bang-bang solutions may be interpreted as intermittent periods of either maximal and minimal drug deployment. While such 'antibiotic pulsing' is near-optimal for a wide range of treatment objectives, we also use this model to evaluate the efficacy of different antibiotic usage strategies to show that dynamically changing antimicrobial therapies may be effective in clearing a bacterial infection even when every 'static monotherapy' fails.
    Bulletin of Mathematical Biology 11/2011; 74(4):908-34. · 2.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the expression of a number of virulence factors, as well as biofilm formation, are controlled by quorum sensing (QS). N-Acylhomoserine lactones (AHLs) are an important class of signaling molecules involved in bacterial QS and in many pathogenic bacteria infection and host colonization are AHL-dependent. The AHL signaling molecules are subject to inactivation mainly by hydrolases (Enzyme Commission class number EC 3) (i.e. N-acyl-homoserine lactonases and N-acyl-homoserine-lactone acylases). Only little is known on quorum quenching mechanisms of oxidoreductases (EC 1). Here we report on the identification and structural characterization of the first NADP-dependent short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase (SDR) involved in inactivation of N-(3-oxo-dodecanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C(12)-HSL) and derived from a metagenome library. The corresponding gene was isolated from a soil metagenome and designated bpiB09. Heterologous expression and crystallographic studies established BpiB09 as an NADP-dependent reductase. Although AHLs are probably not the native substrate of this metagenome-derived enzyme, its expression in P. aeruginosa PAO1 resulted in significantly reduced pyocyanin production, decreased motility, poor biofilm formation and absent paralysis of Caenorhabditis elegans. Furthermore, a genome-wide transcriptome study suggested that the level of lasI and rhlI transcription together with 36 well known QS regulated genes was significantly (≥10-fold) affected in P. aeruginosa strains expressing the bpiB09 gene in pBBR1MCS-5. Thus AHL oxidoreductases could be considered as potent tools for the development of quorum quenching strategies.
    PLoS ONE 10/2011; 6(10):e26278. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Jun Wang, Rania Nakad, Hinrich Schulenburg
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    ABSTRACT: The FOXO family of transcription factors have recently been implicated in innate immunity, especially in case of DAF-16 from the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. However, previous studies with this nematode proposed that DAF-16 is not directly activated by pathogens. Rather, DAF-16 mediates resistance if activated by some other cue as part of a general stress response. We specifically tested this notion by analysis of DAF-16 nuclear translocation and thus regulatory activity upon exposure to pathogenic Bacillus thuringiensis. Our results demonstrate that DAF-16 nuclear translocation is indeed particularly induced in response to bacterial pathogenicity, whereas infection load alone has little effect. Translocation is strongest at an early time point, suggesting a role during the immediate immune response. The increased DAF-16 availability is associated with higher resistance and a reduction in feeding behaviour. Taken together, our data highlight that a FOXO transcription factor directly responds to pathogens and thus contributes to immune defence.
    Developmental and comparative immunology 09/2011; 37(1):193-201. · 3.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pathogens represent a universal threat to other living organisms. Most organisms express antimicrobial proteins and peptides, such as lysozymes, as a protection against these challenges. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans harbours 15 phylogenetically diverse lysozyme genes, belonging to two distinct types, the protist- or Entamoeba-type (lys genes) and the invertebrate-type (ilys genes) lysozymes. In the present study we characterized the role of several protist-type lysozyme genes in defence against a nematocidal strain of the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. Based on microarray and subsequent qRT-PCR gene expression analysis, we identified protist-type lysozyme genes as one of the differentially transcribed gene classes after infection. A functional genetic analysis was performed for three of these genes, each belonging to a distinct evolutionary lineage within the protist-type lysozymes (lys-2, lys-5, and lys-7). Their knock-out led to decreased pathogen resistance in all three cases, while an increase in resistance was observed when two out of three tested genes were overexpressed in transgenic lines (lys-5, lys-7, but not lys-2). We conclude that the lysozyme genes lys-5, lys-7, and possibly lys-2 contribute to resistance against B. thuringiensis, thus highlighting the particular role of lysozymes in the nematode's defence against pathogens.
    PLoS ONE 09/2011; 6(9):e24619. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Rebecca D. Schulte, Hinrich Schulenburg
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    ABSTRACT: Die Koevolution zwischen Wirt und Parasit ist mit einer extrem hohen Selektionsdynamik verbunden. Der Fadenwurm Caenorhabditis elegans ist ein ideales Wirtsmodellsystem, um die komplexen und äußrst rasanten evolutionären Konsequenzen dieser Interaktionen experimentell zu untersuchen. The coevolution between host and parasite is associated with extreme selection dynamics. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans provides an ideal host model system to analyse experimentally the complex and very rapid evolutionary consequences of these interactions.
    BioSpektrum 09/2011; 17(5):500-505.
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    ABSTRACT: Immune responses, either constitutive or induced, are costly. An alternative defence strategy may be based on behavioural responses. For example, avoidance behaviour reduces contact with pathogens and thus the risk of infection as well as the requirement of immune system activation. Similarly, if pathogens are taken up orally, preferential feeding of pathogen-free food may be advantageous. Behavioural defences have been found in many animals, including the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. We here tested nematodes from a laboratory based evolution experiment which had either coevolved with their microparasite Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) or evolved under control conditions. After 48 generations, coevolved populations were more sensitive to food conditions: in comparison with the controls, they reduced feeding activity in the presence of pathogenic BT strains while at the same time increasing it in the presence of non-pathogenic strains. We conclude that host-parasite coevolution can drive changes in the behavioural responsiveness to bacterial microbes, potentially leading to an increased defence against pathogens.
    Biology letters 08/2011; 8(2):234-6. · 3.43 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
243.79 Total Impact Points


  • 2009–2014
    • Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
      • Zoological Institute and Museum
      Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
  • 2013
    • University of Exeter
      Exeter, England, United Kingdom
  • 2011
    • Universität Osnabrück
      Osnabrück, Lower Saxony, Germany
    • Imperial College London
      • Department of Mathematics
      London, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 2007–2011
    • University of Tuebingen
      • Institute of Musicology
      Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
    • University of Maryland, College Park
      • Department of Biology
      College Park, MD, United States
  • 2004–2011
    • University of Münster
      • Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity
      Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • 2008
    • Centre d'Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy
      Marsiglia, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France