Lab news

2016-06-11 18.53.54

Just emerging from a busy teaching period, it was as ever a pleasure this year to welcome first another enthusiastic group of Bachelor students to our upper-level undergraduate course on “Key Concepts in Evolutionary Ecology”, followed by another excellent set of Master students taking our module “Evolution of Behaviour”. The Master module – which Klaus Reinhold and I teach together – focuses on bushcricket behavioural ecology, and our aim is to try to pack in the full scientific “experience”, from developing a hypothesis and designing an experiment to test it, then actually conducting the experiment and analysing the results, through to finally presenting the research in a paper and oral presentation (all in 6 weeks!). The highlight is a two-week trip to central Greece, where we conduct the experiments the students have designed in the field. It was a brilliant trip this year, undoubtedly enhanced through various guest researchers joining us (thanks all!). Today is the last day of the module, and I’m very much looking forward to the students’ presentations of their work in the final symposium this afternoon.

A few other recent lab developments:

First, a very warm, if slightly belated, welcome to Ekin Demir, an intern student studying in Ankara who is joining the lab over the summer. During her visit, Ekin will work together with Bahar, myself and our collaboration partner Claudia Fricke in Münster on a spermatogenesis project.

Second, speaking of Münster, the lab was well represented at the Insect Reproductive Molecules meeting there this week. Well done to Bahar, Michael, Yumi and Ekin for your contributions and thanks very much to Claudia and her team for putting together an excellent meeting (and for inviting us even though we don’t work on insects!). Some fascinating discussion of seminal fluid-mediated effects and various other reproductive phenomena in Drosophila, beetles, snails and flatworms, and a really friendly and open atmosphere (despite all the talk of Brexit in the coffee breaks!).

And finally, my aim of blogging about papers as we publish them has slipped a bit, so to catch up, I’m delighted to report that an experimental evolution study in Macrostomum lignano led by Tim Janicke has just come out in Journal of Evolutionary Biology, plus two review articles. The first is a chapter I wrote together with Lukas Schärer on sex in hermaphrodites for the Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Biology, and the second is my take on why flatworms are an interesting model group for studying various aspects of sexual diversity, commissioned for a forthcoming special issue of Molecular Reproduction & Development dedicated to Hermaphrodites.

Janicke T, Sandner P, Ramm SA, Vizoso DB, Schärer L (2016)
Experimentally evolved and phenotypically plastic responses to 
enforced monogamy in a hermaphroditic flatworm
Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

Schärer L, Ramm SA (2016) 
The Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Biology. Vol 2, p. 212-224.

Ramm SA (2016)
Exploring the sexual diversity of flatworms: Ecology, evolution,
and the molecular biology of reproduction.
Molecular Reproduction and Development.


Photo: our field site in Paleokastro, central Greece.



Huge congratulations to Yumi Nakadera, just awarded a Humboldt Research Fellowship to study the adaptive dynamics of seminal fluid in snails. The project will allow Yumi to continue developing her independent research programme over the next two years; it will be hosted in my lab here in Bielefeld, with collaboration partners in Amsterdam and Rennes.

Photo: the great pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis (Public domain, via Wikipedia).


12736466_10154596915937729_2017208733_n…for another year. Thanks to all of the participants for lots of fun and fascinating discussion on matters hermaphroditic at SHOW 2016 last week, and a special thank you to the ZiF for hosting us, and the team here – Bahar, Michael, Yumi & Athina – for all the hard work behind-the-scenes to make it happen. (Photo credit: Bahar)

The Simultaneously Hermaphroditic Organisms Workshop is an annual meeting of researchers working on questions related to sex in hermaphrodites. We’re proud to be hosting the next instalment, at Bielefeld University’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) from 17-19 February 2016. The workshop will be attended by members of the established SHOW network from across Europe, but we’re always open to new participants too. So, if you work on sex in hermaphrodites (animals or plants) and would be interested in joining the meeting, or would like more info, please get in touch.

We’re delighted to welcome Dr. Yumi Nakadera to the group this week. Yumi is joining us as a postdoc having been awarded funding from the Young Researchers’ Fund of Bielefeld University to develop her research programme on seminal fluid-mediated effects in snails; she recently completed a Ph.D. on this topic in the group of Joris Koene at VU University Amsterdam.