Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

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My main research interest deals with the diversification of higher plants.

To illuminate processes of diversification I apply different approaches from phylogeny, biogeography, phylogeography, (floral) morphology, pollination biology to population genetics. I use phylogenetic relationships between sister species as a basis to follow up evolutionary trends in geographic distribution ranges, habitat adaptation, morphological peculiarities and ecological adaptations. The comparison of phylogeographic patterns gives hints on the degree of genetic isolation between sister species as an indicator for ongoing speciation processes, demographic changes and migration routes in the past.

Some ongoing project:

Floral biology

Flowers and their adaptations to different pollinators in the understorey of tropical rainforest

  • Quantification of pollinator shifts and their influence on speciation in Marantaceae
  • Flower morphological diversity in Aframomum (Zingiberaceae) – potential for adaptations to different pollinators as driving speciation agents? (in cooperation with Dr. D. Harris, RBGE)

Pollination networks

  • the influence of fragmentation on pollination networks

The locality dependent variability of the pollen-ovule-ratio in flowers

Phylogeography and population genetics

Phylogeographic pattern in the understorey of African rainforest

  • On the search for evidence of the refugial hyothesis in central Africa - comparative phylogeography in Marantaceae (in cooperation with Dr. O.J. Hardy, ULB)
  • The influence of the breeding stystem on phylogeographic pattern in the autogamous species Halopegia azurea (Marantaceae) in central Africa (in cooperation with Dr. O.J. Hardy, ULB)

Gene flow in tropical perennial herbs and lianas

  • Genetic characterisation of hybridisation in two African liana species of the genus Haumania (Marantaceae) (in cooperation with Dr. O.J. Hardy, ULB)
  • Potential speciation through hybridisation in Marantochloa (Marantaceae) (in cooperation with Dr. O.J. Hardy, ULB)
  • Clone-size in the tropical understorey in relation to forest disturbance regimes (in cooperation with Dr. O.J. Hardy, ULB)
  • Direct and indirect genetic determination of dispersal distances for pollen and fruits in the tropical understorey (in cooperation with Dr. O.J. Hardy, ULB)

Climatic adaptation in tropical Africa

  • Morphological and genetical variability in Sarcophrynium prionogonium(Marantaceae) between climatically extreme localities in Cameroon (Central African Biodiversity Alliance    - Conservation under climate change)

Systematics and phylogeny

Phylogeny, morlecular dating and biogeography of the family Marantaceae

  • with M. Al-Gharaibeh - PhD student (in cooperation with F. Borchsenius, L. Prince, I. Sanmartin)

Taxonomic investigations in African Marantaceae

  • "Marantaceae" for the Flora of Central Afrika (in cooperation with Dr. J.-B. Dhetchuvi)


  • Comparative flower morphological and ecological investigations
  • Ontogenetic investigations
  • Scanning-electron-microscopy (SEM)
  • Pollinator observations
  • Range extrapolation
  • Sequencing and genotyping (AFLP, microsatellites)
  • Phylogenetic analyses
  • Phylogeographic analyses
  • Populationgenetic analyses
  • GIS applications