Kohlmeier, Philip

Philip Kohlmeier
Scientific Assistent

Curriculum Vitae


Since 2014 PhD student within the International PhD Program of the Institute of Molecular Biology, Mainz
2012 – 2014 Master studies in Biology, Johannes Gutenberg – University Mainz.
Thesis: „Should I stay or should I go? How host-pathogen interactions shape basic forms of social life in insects“
2009 – 2012 Bachelor studies Biology, Bielefeld University
Thesis: “Mechanisms underlying olfactory home nest recognition in the zebra finch“


2016 Huyck preserve research grant: “Genetic and epigenetic regulation of division of labor in social insects” together with A. Alleman
2015 Huyck preserve research grant: “Genetic Basis of Division of Labor” together with A. Alleman




15th ESEB meeting. Oral presentation: “The effect of age and gene expression on division of labor in a social insect”

11th Course of Epigenetics, Institute Curie, Paris, France. Posterprize

2012 Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, Systematics Seminar, Normal, Illinois, USA. Talk: „Never forget where you come from - Olfactory kin recognition in a songbird“
7th Topical Meeting of the Ethological Society, Münster. Talk: „Olfactory kin recognition in a songbird“
2011 Symposium of Biology Students in Europe, Basel, Switzerland, Talk: “Olfactory kin recognition in a songbird”, 1st prize in the category “Best Bachelor Student Presentation”
16th Graduate meeting of the DZG, Bielefeld. Talk: “Olfactory kin recognition in a songbird”

Working experience/Internships

10.2012 – 09.2014 Research assistant, Institute of Anthropology, JGU Mainz
07-2012 – 08.2012 Research internship, Avian Ecology Laboratory, Illinois State University, USA
02.2012 – 03.2012 Research internship, Institute of Virology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, Germany
10.2011 – 05.2012 Research assistant, Department of Chemical Ecology, Bielefeld University
10.2010 – 06.2012 Research assistant, Department of Animal Behavior, Bielefeld University

Research Interests

Research interests


I am interested in social life and all its fascinating aspects reaching from benefits that facilitated the evolution of group living to the molecular processes controlling the behavior of a single individual within a social structure. Whereas I focused on how animals outweigh the costs of associated with group living in my Bachelor and Master theses, I want to understand the (epi-)genetic basis of ant worker behavior during my PhD. The methods I used (or plan to use) to answer such questions include behavioral experiments, infections with different pathogens, immunological assays, transcriptomics, methylomics, bioinformatics and scripting, RNAi and quantitative PCR.

PhD project

Division of labor is key to the ecological success of insect societies and fundamental to their social organization. In most social insects, behavioral and morphological castes are not genetically determined, but develop through phenotypic plasticity. Division of labor becomes more pronounced in larger colonies both within and between species. Moreover, behavior and task allocation typically changes in workers with age, a phenomenon known as polyethism.
This project aims at a deeper understanding of the evolution and ontogeny of division of labor in ants. We are interested in the identity, regulation and selection of genes, whose differential expression are important for the division of labor in workers. We will analyze how behavioral performance, epigenetic signature and gene expression patterns change over a workers’ life and which factors other than age influence worker behavior, such as morphology or experience. Our model species of the genus Temnothorax are characterized by small colonies, monomorphic, long-lived workers with a clear division of labor into different behavioral castes.


Kohlmeier P, Feldmeyer B, Foitzik S. Vitellogenin-like A - associated shifts in social cue responsiveness regulate behavioral task specialization in an ant. PLOS Biology, in press.

Kramer J, Körner M, Diehl J, Scheiner C, Yüksel-Dadak A, Christl T, Kohlmeier P, Meunier J. When earwig mothers do not care to share: parent-offspring competition and the evolution of family life. Functional Ecology, in press.

Kohlmeier P, Negroni M, Kever M, Emmling S, Stypa H, Feldmeyer B und Foitzik S. Intrinsic worker mortality depends on behavioural caste and the queens' presence in a social insect. The Science of Nature, in press.

Kohlmeier, Holländer and Meunier. Survival after pathogen exposure in group-living insects: don't forget the stress of social isolation! Journal of Evolutionary Biology, in press.

Kohlmeier, Dreyer, Meunier (2015): PO-CALC: A novel tool to correct common inconsistencies in the measurement of phenoloxidase activity, Journal of Insect Physiology. 75:80-84

Caspers, Hoffman, Kohlmeier, Krüger, Krause (2013): Olfactory imprinting and discrimination of nest odours in zebra finches, Animal Behaviour 86

Krause, Krueger, Kohlmeier, Caspers (2012): Olfactory kin recognition in a songbird, Biology Letters 8