Feldmeyer, Barbara Dr.

Dr. Barbara Feldmeyer
Asssistant Professor

Curriculim Vitae

since 2012 Assistant professor, Evolutionary Biology, University Mainz
2009 - 2011 Post-Doc, Ecological Genomics, BiK-F Frankfurt
2004 - 2009 PhD Thesis, University Groningen, The Netherlands Topic: „The Effect of Temperature on Sex Determination“.
2001 - 2004 Study of Biology, University Würzburg Topic: „Differences of host usage of Crematogaster Msp. 4 and 10 on different Macaranga host plants. Does adaptation lead to population substructuring?“
1998 - 2000 Biology Studies („Vordiplom“), University Greifswald

Research Interests

evolutionary genetics, evolutionary ecology, behavioural genetics

I am interested in the adaptive potential of organisms to their environment. This may include abiotic factors, such as temperature, as well as biotic factors, such as the interplay within a social ant colony.

Behavioural genetics

Social Hymenopterans feature a number of special traits, which clearly set them apart from all other animal groups. In ants, different worker castes and the queens develop from the same genetic background (polyphenism). In addition ant workers are further specialized on various tasks, from brood tending, over nest guarding to foraging. In some ant species behavioural caste differentiation is associated with morphological caste differentiation, however in other species monomorphic workers perform the different duties. I’m interested in the genetic mechanisms that lead to the development of the different castes as well as their differential behaviours. The genus Temnothorax is an ideal study system, as salvemakeing evolved several times independently, thus making it possible to investigate and compare the evolution of behavioural patterns in closely related species. In addition, the system allows to investigate co-evolutionary processes and local adaptation between closely related slavemaker and host species.

Niche evolution

Closely related species, as well as different populations of one species, often occupy different niches and are thus adapted to different environmental properties. I’m interested in the adaptive potential of species to their environment, specifically to changing temperature and climate conditions. In this respect, a combinatory approach of studying both, proximate (phenotypic) as well as ultimate (genetic) traits is optimal. The combination of different methods (e.g. life-history trait determination, identification of selected genes) allows to draw conclusions on the proportion of phenotypic plasticity and evolutionary differentiation on the regulatory or structural level. As study organism I am working with the pond snail genus, Radix. Niche models have shown, that the distribution ranges between species (as well as populations) differ in temperature, as well as length of dry period.


common-garden-experiments, population genetics, Next Generation Sequencing (gene expression patterns, shot gun, RAD-tags), animal physiology, life-history data, behavioural observations.


Patel S., Schell T., Eifert C., Feldmeyer B., M. Pfenninger (2015). Characterizing a hybrid zone between a cryptic species pair of freshwater snails. Molecular Ecology 24: 643-655.
doi: 10.1111/mec.13049

Merker S., Thomas S., Völker E., Perwitasari-Farajallah D., Feldmeyer B., Streit B. and M. Pfenninger (2014). Control region length dynamics potentially drives amino acid evolution in tarsier mitochondrial genomes. Journal of Molecular Evolution. 79: 40-51.
doi: 10.1007/s00239-014-9631-2

Seifert B., Kleeberg I., Feldmeyer B., et al. (2014) Temnothorax pilagens sp. n. – a new slave-making species of the tribe Formicoxenini from North America (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). ZooKeys 368:65-77. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.368.6423

Feldmeyer B., Elsner D., S. Foitzik (2014). Gene expression patterns associated with caste and reproductive status in the ant Temnothorax longispinosus: worker-specific genes are more derived than queen-specific ones. Molecular Ecology 23:151-161. doi: 10.1111/mec.12490

Schmidt H., Greshake B., Feldmeyer B., Hankeln T., M. Pfenninger (2013). Genomic basis of ecological niche divergence among cryptic sister species of non-biting midges. BMC Genomics 14:384.

Slattery P., Eschenbrenner C., Arias-Rodriguez L., Streit B., Bierbach D., Riesch R., Tobler M., Pfenninger M., Feldmeyer B., Plath M., H. Lerp (2012). Twelve new microsatellite loci for the sulfur molly (Poecilia sulphuraria) and the related Atlantic molly (P. mexicana). Conservation Genetic Resources 45: 935-937.

Merker S., D. Boucsein, B. Feldmeyer, D. Perwitasari-Farajallah, B. Streit (2012). Novel tetra- and pentanucleotide microsatellite markers allow for multiplexed genotyping of Sulawesi tarsiers (Tarsius spp.). Conservation Genetics Resources. Conservation Genetics Resources 4 (2): 343-345.

Feldmeyer B., C.W. Wheat, N. Krezdorn, B. Rotter, M. Pfenninger (2011). Short read Illumina data for the de novo assembly of a non-model snail species transcriptome (Radix balthica, Basommatophora, Pulmonata), and a comparison of assembler performance. BMC Genomics 12:317.

Pfenninger M., M. Salinger, T. Haun, B. Feldmeyer (2011). Factors and processes shaping the population structure and distribution of genetic variation across the species range of the freshwater snail Radix balthica (Pulmonata, Basommatophora). BMC Evolutionary Biology 11:135.

Pen I., T. Uller, B. Feldmeyer, A. Harts, G.M. While, E. Wapstra (2010). Climate-driven population divergence in sex-determining systems. Nature 468: 436-438.

Feldmeyer B., K. Hoffmeier, M. Pfenninger (2010). The complete mitochondrial genome of Radix balthica (Pulmonata, Basommatophora), obtained by low coverage shot gun next generation sequencing. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 57: 1329-1333.

Feldmeyer B., I. Pen, L.W. Beukeboom (2010). A microsatellite marker linkage map of the housefly, Musca domestica: evidence for male recombination. Insect Molecular Biology 19 (4): 575-581.

Feldmeyer B., M. Kozielska, F.J. Weissing, L.W. Beukeboom, I. Pen. (2008) Climatic variation and the geographical distribution of sex determination mechanisms in the housefly. Evolutionary Ecology Research 10: 797-809.

Kozielska M., B. Feldmeyer, F.J.Weissing, I. Pen, L.W. Beukeboom. (2008) Are autosomal sex determining factors of the housefly (Musca domestica) spreading north? Genetical Research 90:157-165.

Jürgens A., H. Feldhaar, B. Feldmeyer, B. Fiala. (2006) Chemical composition of leaf volatiles in Mac
species (Euphorbiaceae) and their potential role as olfactory cues in host-localisation of foundress queens of specific ant partners. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 34: 97-113.