Matthias W. LorenzSenior scientist
At Animal Ecology I until 03/2013
Integrative biology of insects
My research interests cover the areas of evolutionary biology, ecology, behaviour, and physiology of insects. Nature forces organisms to adapt to changing habitats or new niches, which is a major cause for the emergence of biodiversity. Using an integrative approach we investigate the molecular, biochemical and physiological mechanisms underlying the adaptation of insects to a changing environment. Our research focuses on the adaptive evolution of the insect endocrine system which controls virtually all aspects of whole-animal performance. Any traits affecting whole-animal performance (e.g. morphological, physiological, behavioural) are subject to selection and, thus, are optimised to enable successful reproduction. Since dynamic as well as regulatory performance traits ultimately depend on energy, a basic theme of our investigations is the adaptive regulation of energy acquisition, storage, mobilisation and allocation under changing biotic and abiotic conditions, an area that has been somewhat neglected in ecological and evolutionary research. In particular, we are interested in the adaptive evolution of a.) life history trade-offs, b.) development and reproduction, c.) acoustic and chemical communication, d.) agonistic behaviour, and e.) endocrine and behavioural rhythmicity. These issues are investigated using the two-spotted cricket, Gryllus bimaculatus, as our main model. In addition, for comparative purposes, selected aspects are investigated in cockroaches, earwigs, stick insects, bugs, aphids, and hymenopterans.
To reach our goals, we combine a broad spectrum of field and laboratory methods and approaches (analysis of abundance, population structure, behavioural ecology, morphology, artificial selection, diet manipulation, thermal biology, chronobiology, bioacoustics, radiochemical assays, RIA, ELISA, HPLC-UV/Vis, -PDA, -FD, -ECD, -MS, enzymology, general biochemistry and cell physiology, peptide/protein purification, quantification and sequencing, gene cloning and sequencing, quantitative real-time PCR, RNA interference). Whenever possible, in our practical courses students are invited to choose a combination of methods according to their main interests.
Main research projects
Integration of metabolism and behaviour in insects: the importance of energetics, endocrine regulation and circadian rhythms
Functional morphology, ecology and physiology of the digestive system
Ecophysiology and adaptive behaviour of earwigs
>> Courses taught