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Dr. Katrin Heer


Research interests

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My research focuses on the evolutionary ecology of tree species.

I specialized on genetic and genomic approaches to address questions regarding the local adaptation of forest tree species and the impact of plant-animal interactions on gene flow.

Using next generation sequencing approaches as well as classical marker approaches I search for signatures of selection in forest tree populations, the imprint of gene flow on population structure and I tackle the association between genotype, phenotype and the environment. For the latter, I apply a variety of methods to characterize the phenotype and environment of trees.

Also, my research of plant adaptation brought my attention to the potential importance of epigenetics effects. Epigenetic mechanisms might critically impact the response of a plant to local and changing climatic conditions, but the importance of epigenetics in ecology and evolution is thus far little understood.

My research is mainly focused on European, and Southern and Central American tree species, including Abies alba, Fagus sylvatica, Picea abies, Pinus sylvestris, Populus nigra, Nothofagus pumilio, Leonia cymosa and Ficus (and not to forget - one liana species - Marcgravia longifolia)

Here, you find detailed information on


My personal website can be found here.  


Current Projects

Local adaptation and acclimation of forest trees

EpiDiverse - Epigenetic Diversity in Ecology

In European Training Network (ETN) EpiDiverse, we study the naturally occuring epigenetic variation in Fragaria vesca, Thlaspi arvense and Populus nigra. Together with Dr. Lars Opgenoorth, I supervise the PhD project of Bárbara Díez Rodríguez where we focus on methylation patterns of the clonal P. nigra italica that is planted all across Europe. We have already established a common garden with about 500 poplar trees that we will phenotype and epi-genotype in the next years. The main focus will be on traits related to growth, phenology and herbivory.

The ETN is funded by Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Actions, and coordinated by Dr. Koen Verhoeven (NIOO, Netherlands). Detailed infos on the project can be found on the project website and updates on twitter @EpiDiverse and ResearchGate.

GenTree - Optimising the management and sustainable use of forest genetic resources in Europe

The overall goal of GenTree is to provide the European forestry sector with better knowledge, methods and tools to improve the conservation and use of adapted and genetically diverse FGR in European forests in the context of global environmental change and evolving societal demands for a diversified range of forest products.

In Marburg, we are currently involved in sampling of F. sylvatica, A. alba, P. abies and P. nigra, and in the development of the phenotyping protocols. Further, we participate in a germination trial that tests the quantitative genetics of early fitness traits in Pinus sylvestris and Betula pendula. At a later stage, we will analyze exome capture data of F. sylvatica and Q. robur. GenTree is funded under the EU H2020 program. For more information on the project, please have a look at the website and on twitter @GenTree.

Local adaptation of Nothofagus pumilio along the latitudinal gradient of the Andes

In this collaborative project, we aim to investigate the local adaptation of Nothofagus pumilio along extreme latitudinal, elevational and precipitation gradients. Currently, our PhD student Jill Sekely is collecting data on dendrophenotypic traits and prepares the exome capture genotyping. For the genotyping, we build on a preliminary study where we generated RNAseq data from seedlings grown under different temperature and day length condition with the goal of determining whether genes involved in the regulation of circadian clock are differentially expressed in N. pumilio seedlings grown under different temperature regimes. With the RNAseq data, we further created a de-novo transcriptome assembly for N. pumilio which will serve as a ressource for subsequent genotyping of populations across the distribution range to determine whether there are signatures of selection along environmental and day length gradients. Genetic data will be jointly analyzed with data from tree-ring analysis to determine how genotypes cope with climate extremes. The collaboration with the team from INTA Bariloche was funded by the DAAD and Trees4future, and is currently funded by the DFG (HE 7345/6-1). More infos on the project can be found here.

Genetic resources for forest trees

I am a collaborator in genome sequencing projects for Abies alba carried out by AForGeN (Alpine Forest Genetics Network) and for Fagus sylvatica coordinated by Ivan Scotti (INRA).


Plant-animal interactions

Vertical stratification of plant-animal interactions and their impact on pollination and seed dispersal within a single Neotropical plant species

This study focuses on a neotropical liana species, Marcgravia longifolia, that produces flowers and fruits across all strata in the forest, and interacts with a large number of different nectarivores and frugivores. We seek to study these plant-animal interaction in detail, with a specific focus on the vertical stratification of these interactions and the consequences on dispersal, and ultimately, gene flow. Since June 2018, Sarina Thiel is conducting her PhD thesis in this project. In the next two years, we will collect data on visition rates, assamblages of nectarivores and frugivores, nectar and fruit quality and quantity and gene flow across the forest strata.
The project is carried out in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Eckhard Heymann (DPZ) and Prof. Dr. Marco Tschapka (University of Ulm), and funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG HE7345/5-1).

Metabarcoding of fecal samples of flying foxes from Mt. Kilimanjaro

In collaboration with Dr. Marco Tschapka and Anna Vogeler (both University of Ulm), we use a metabarcoding approach to determine which plant species have been eaten by by flying foxes that were captured across a land use gradient on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.

Past Projects

Effect of primate seed dispersal on spatial genetic structure of a neotropical tree species (2014 - 2017)

In this study, we investigate the effects of primate seed dispersal on the spatial genetic structure of the neotropical understorey tree species Leonia cymosa. The study is conducted in collaboration with Prof. Eckhard Heymann and Tiziana Gelmi (both DPZ) and funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG HE7345/2-1).

Do long-lived conifers react to environmental stress by somatic epigenetic priming? (2014 - 2017)

In this project, we aimed to investigate whether changes in climatic conditions lead to changes in the methylation of genes. Therefore, we studied methylation in clones of Norway spruce by means of exome capture and bisulfite sequencing. This project was funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG HE7345/2-1).

TipTree: Scenarios for forest biodiversity dynamics under global change: Identifying microevolutionary scale tipping points driven by tree adaptive potential (2013 - 2016)

In this project, I was employed as a postdoctaral researcher. We investigated the response of tree species to changing climatic conditions with a special focus on local adaptation. We currently analyze data to identify adequate candidate genes that vary along environmental gradients and test whether younger cohorts differ genetically from the cohort of their parental trees at these candidate loci with the goal of determining whether recent climatic changes already provoked shifts in allele frequency at adaptive genes. Further, we studied the genetic basis of dendrophenotypes that provide information on the response of individual trees towards environmental conditions (e.g. the reaction of silver fir towards SO2 pollution in the 70s and 80s, see publications below). Further, we focus on gene flow and reproductive success in the investigated populations. We closely collaborate with Martin Lascoux and Martin Källman (University of Uppsala), Bruno Fady (INRA Avignon), and Giovanni Vendramin and Andrea Piotti (Italian National Research Council). The project was funded by ERA-NET BiodivERsA and the BMBF to Sascha Liepelt, Lars Opgenoorth and Birgit Ziegenhagen.


Workshops and Conferences


New Phytologist Symposium: Plant epigenetics - from mechanisms to ecological relevance (Vienna, 2017)

As a follow up to the sEpiDiv Workshop, we seek to foster the discussion about the ecological and evolutionary relevance of epigenetics among researchers from different disciplines. Registration will open in autumn 2016. The symposium is funded by the New Phytologist. https://www.newphytologist.org/symposiumpages/index/71

sEpiDiv - Towards understanding the causes and consequences of epigenetic diversity (Leipzig, 2015)

Epigenetic diversity is a hidden component of natural biodiversity about which little is known. To better understand the ecological significance of epigenetic diversity, the field of ecological epigenetics has to be advanced. During the first workshop we identified the most urgent questions, outlined an application for a European Training Network, sketched out the way forward in ecological epigenetics (published in Ecology Letters) and applied for a New Phytologist Symposium. The workshops were funded by sDiv. https://www.idiv.de/?id=150


Teaching

I am teaching in several courses for BSc and MSc students at the Philipps University Marburg and supervise BSc and MSc theses which are usually closely related to ongoing research projects. Please contact me, if you are interested!

MSc

In the summer semester, I am teaching a course on "Citizen Science in Ecology and Conservation". Students learn about citizen science, explore ongoing projects, prepare seminar talks on different topics linked to CS, and most importantly, work on their own CS projects. Currently ongoing projects collect data on neobiota and FFH species in Hesse in close collaboration with the Hessian Agency for Nature Conservation, Environment and Geology (HLNUG). Current projects include the collection of data on the invasive Asian hornet and other invasive species, or the European mantis that expands its distribution range northwards with climate change. Further, we also collaborate with the project Natur4.0 where the participation of citizen scientists is foreseen.

Further, I am involved in the seminar of the MSc course on "Forest conservation and management" where we focus on conflicts that arise among the various stakeholders in forest conservation and management.

BSc

In the winter semester, we teach a course on "Conservation biology". In the seminar, students present publications relevant in the context of conservation biology. In the course, students learn how genetic methods can be applied in conservation biology. We work with serveral data sets, and students learn how to analyze, illustrate and interpret the data in the context of conservation biology.


Publications

 

Accepted
(19) Martínez-Sancho E, Slámová L, Morganti S, Grefen C, Carvalho B, Dauphin B, Rellstab C, Gugerli F, Opgenoorth L, Heer K, Knutzen F, von Arx G, Valladares F, Cavers C, Bruno Fady [54 authors on alphabethical order] Fonti P (accepted) The GenTree Dendroecological Collection, tree-ring and wood density data from seven tree species across Europe. Scientific Data

2019
(18) Estravis-Barcala M, Mattera MG, Soliani S, Bellora N, Opgenoorth L, Heer K, Arana MV (2019) Molecular bases of responses to abiotic stress in trees. Journal of Experimental Botany, erz532, https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/erz532

(17) Heymann EW, Culot L, Knogge C, Smith AC, Tirado Herrera ER, Stojan-Dolar M, Lledo Ferrer Y, Petra Kubisch, Kupsch D, Slana D, Koopmann ML, Ziegenhagen B, Bialozy R, Mengel C, Hambuckers J, Heer K (2019) Small Neotropical primates promote the natural regeneration of anthropogenically disturbed areas. Scientific Reports 9, 10356. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-46683-x. 

(16) Gelmi-Candusso TA, Slana D, Zarata-Gomez R, Heymann EW, Heer K (2019) Estimating seed dispersal distance: a comparison of methods using animal movement and plant genetic data. Ecology and Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.5422

(15) Mosca E, Cruz F, Gómez-Garrido J, Bianco L, Rellstab C, Brodbeck S, Csilléry K, Fady B, Fladung M, Fussi B, Gömöry D, González-Martínez SC, Grivet D, Gut M, Hansen OK, Heer K, Kaya Z, Krutovsky KV, Kersten B, Liepelt S, Opgenoorth L, Sperisen C, Ullrich KK, Vendramin GG, Westergren M, Ziegenhagen B, Alioto T, Gugerli F, Heinze B, Höhn M, Troggio M, Neale, DB (2019) A reference genome sequence for the european silver fir (Abies alba mill.): a community-generated genomic resource. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics, 9(7), 2039-49. https://doi.org/10.1534/g3.119.400083

(14) Avanzi C, Piermattei A, Piotti A, Buntgen U, Heer K, Opgenoorth L, Spanu I, Urbinati C, Vendramin GG, Leonardi S (2019) Disentangling the effects of spatial proximity and genetic similarity on in situ growth performances of Picea abies. Science of the Total Environment 650 (1) 493-504. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.08.348

2018

(13) Ammer C, Fichtner A, Fischer A, Gossner MM, Meyer P, Seidl R, Thomas FM, Annighöfer P, Kreyling J, Ohse B, Berger U, Feldmann E,  Häberle KH, Heer K, Heinrichs S, Huth F, Krämer-Klement K, Mölder A, Mund M, Opgenoorth L, Schall P, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Seidel D, Vogt J, Wagner S (2018) Key ecological research questions for Central European forests. Basic and Applied Ecology 31, 3-25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2018.07.006

(12) Heer K*, Ullrich KK*, Hiss M, Liepelt S, Schulze-Brüning R, Zhou J, Opgenoorth L Rensing SA (2018) Detection of somatic epigenetic variation in Norway spruce via targeted bisulfite sequencing. Ecology and Evolution 2018, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.4374

(11) Heer K*, Behringer D*, Piermattei A, Bässler C, Brandl R, Fady B, Jehl, H, Liepelt S, Lorch S, Piotti A, Vendramin GG, Weller M, Ziegenhagen B, Büntgen U, Opgenoorth L (2018) Linking dendroecology and association genetics in natural populations: Stress responses archived in tree rings associate with SNP genotypes in Abies alba (Mill.) Molecular Ecology 27(6), 1428-1438. doi:

(10) Heer K, Mounger J, Boquete MT, Richards CL, Opgenoorth L (2018) The diversifying field of plant epigenetics. New Phytologist 217(3). 988–992. PDF. The definitive version is available at available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1469-8137.

2017

(9) Gelmi-Cardusso TA, Heymann EW, Heer K (2017) Effects of zoochory on the spatial genetic structure of plant populations. Molecular Ecology 26(21):5896-5910. doi: 10.1111/mec.14351

(8) Torroba-Balmori P, Budde KB, Heer K, González-Martínez SC, Olsson S, Scotti-Saintagne C, Casalis M, Sonké B, Dick CW, Heuertz M. (2017) Altitudinal gradients, biogeographic history and microhabitat adaptation affect fine-scale spatial genetic structure in African and Neotropical populations of an ancient tropical tree species. PLoS ONE 12(8): e0182515. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0182515

(7) Richards CL, Alonso C, Becker C, Bossdorf O, Bucher E, Colome-Tatche M, Durka W, Engelhardt J, Gaspar B, Gogol-Döring A, Grosse I, Gurp TP van, Heer K, Kronholm I, Lampei C, Latzel V, Mirouze M, Opgenoorth L, Paun O, Prohaska S, Rensing SA, Stadler P, Trucchi E, Ullrich K, Verhoeven KJF (2017) Ecological plant epigenetics: Evidence from model and non-model species, and the way forward. Ecology Letters 20: 1576–1590. PDF. DOI: 10.1111/ele.12858

(6) Villalobos-Chaves D, Spínola-Parallada M, Heer K, Kalko EKV, Rodríguez-Herrera B (2017) Implications of a specialized diet on the foraging behavior of the Honduran white bat Ectophylla alba. Journal of Mammalogy 98(4) 1193–1201. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyx044

2016

(5) Heer K*, Ullrich KK*, Liepelt S, Rensing SA, Zhou J, Ziegenhagen B, Opgenoorth L (2016) Detection of SNPs based on transcriptome sequencing in Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst). Conservation Genetics Resources, 8:105-107. doi: 10.1007/s12686-016-0520-4

2015 and before

(4) Heer K, Kalko EKV, Albrecht L, García-Villacorta, R, Staeps FC, Herre EA, & Dick CW (2015). Spatial scales of genetic structure in free-standing and strangler figs (Ficus, Moraceae) inhabiting neotropical forests. PloS one, 10(7), e0133581. doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0133581

(3) Heer K*, Helbig-Bonitz M*, Fernandes RG, Mello, MAR, Kalko EKV (2015) Effects of land use on bat diversity in a complex plantation-forest landscape in northeastern Brazil. Journal of Mammalogy 69(4) 720–731. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyv068

(2) Heer K, Machado CA, Himler AG, et al. (2012) Anonymous and EST-based Microsatellite DNA markers that transfer broadly across the fig tree genus (Ficus L. Moraceae). American Journal of Botany 99, e330-e333. doi:

(1) Heer K, Albrecht L, Kalko EKV (2010) Effects of ingestion by neotropical bats on germination parameters of native free-standing and strangler figs (Ficus sp., Moraceae). Oecologia 163, 425-436. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-010-1600-x

*authors with equal contributions
 

CV


since 2016       Postdoctoral researcher in the working group Conservation Biology (Prof. Dr. Birgit Ziegenhagen), Philipps University Marburg

2013 - 2016     PostDoc in the TipTree project with Prof. Dr. Birgit Ziegenhagen (Conservation Biology) & Dr. Lars Opgenoorth (Department of Ecology), Philipps University Marburg

2009 - 2013     PhD in Biology, University of Ulm (Plant-animal interactions and gene flow in Neotropical rainforets)

2003 - 2008     Diploma in Biology, University of Ulm


Address:                                                                        

At university:

Dr. Katrin Heer
Philipps-University of Marburg
Faculty of  Biology - Conservation Biology
Karl-von-Frisch-Str. 8
35032 Marburg
Germany

Area: C 2
Room: 2062a
Consultation hours: by arrangement 


 

contact


Telefon: +49(0)6421/2823374
Fax:      +49(0)6421/2826588
email: katrin.heer[at]uni-marburg[dot]de




Zuletzt aktualisiert: 27.11.2019 · Galina Bauer

 
 
 
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