Wimmer, Ernst, Prof. Dr.
Professor of Developmental Biology
Homepage Department/Research Group
Major Research Interests
Phylogenetic Variance and Plasticity of Developmental Processes
A key question in evolutionary developmental biology is how diverse animal body plans are specified. To identify the plasticity in developmental processes, we study their conservation and divergence in different arthropod species by transgenesis and functional genomics approaches. This will help us to understand how animal evolution is based on changes in gene regulation governing pattern formation and sex determination processes.
Smelling Beetles: Stink Glands and Odour Detection the Red Flour Beetle Tribolium castaneum
Beetles are prolific producers of repellent and/or toxic compounds. Defensive substances are usually multifunctional: as repellents, toxicants, insecticides, or antimicrobics, they are directed against a large array of potential target organisms or may function for boiling bombardment or as surfactants. We are interested both in the development of these glands as well as their biochemical composition and biological function. The red flour beetle also offers a great system to address olfaction from the odour recognition and discrimination at the periphery to the analysis of the plasticity of the central olfactory pathway.
Applied Developmental Biology: Biotechnological improvements on the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT)
SIT is a successful genetic pest management strategy to prevent, control, suppress, or even eradicate invasive insect pest species from islands, large agricultural production areas, or even complete continents. SIT is a species-specific and eco-friendly insect birth control measure involving mass production, sterilization, and sustained area-wide release of large quantities of sterilized insects. This leads to unproductive matings, which shrinks the population. Our current biotechnological efforts, which include transposon-based germ line transformation and CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing, improve on transgenic female-specific lethality systems to enable more efficient male-only releases, on reproductive sterility systems to overcome the problem of radiation-reduced fitness, and on transgenic markers to better monitor the efficacy of SIT applications.
Selected Recent Publications
- Sharma A, Heinze SD, Wu Y, Kohlbrenner T, Morill I, Brunner C, Wimmer EA, van de Zande L, Robinson MD, Beukeboom LW, Daniel Bopp D (2017) Male sex in houseflies is determined by Mdmd, a paralog of the generic splice factor gene CWC22. Science 356, 642–645.
- Dippel S, Kollmann M, Oberhofer G, Montino A, Knoll C, Krala M, Rexer KH, Frank S, Kumpf R, Schachtner J, Wimmer EA (2016) Morphological and Transcriptomic Analysis of a Beetle Chemosensory System Reveals a Gnathal Olfactory Center. BMC Biology 14:90.
- Papanicolaou A; Schetelig MF, …, Curril IM, …, Oberhofer G, …, Werren JH, Wimmer EA, Worley KC, Zacharopoulou A, Richards S, Handler AM (2016) The whole genome sequence of the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann), reveals insights into the biology and adaptive evolution of a highly invasive pest species. Genome Biology 17:192.
- Schmitt-Engel C, Schultheis D, Schwirz J, Ströhlein N, Troelenberg N, Majumdar U, Anh Dao V, Grossmann D, Richter T, Tech M, Dönitz J, Gerischer L, Theis M, Schild I, Trauner J, Koniszewski NDB, Küster, E Kittelmann, S Hu, Y Lehmann, S Siemanowski, J Ulrich, J Panfilio, KA Schröder, R, Morgenstern B, Stanke M, Buchhholz F, Frasch M, Roth S, Wimmer EA, Schoppmeier M, Martn Klingler M, Bucher G (2015) The iBeetle large scale RNAi screen reveals novel gene functions for insect development and physiology. Nat. Commun. 6:7822.
- Dippel S, Oberhofer G, Kahnt J, Gerischer L, Opitz L, Schachtner J, Stanke M, Schütz S, Wimmer EA, Angeli S (2014) Tissue-specific transcriptomics, chromosomal localization, and phylogeny of chemosensory and odorant binding proteins from the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum reveal subgroup specificities for olfaction or more general functions. BMC Genomics 15:1141.
- Li J, Lehmann S, Weißbecker B, Ojeda-Naharros I, Schütz S, Joop G, Wimmer EA (2013) Odoriferous defensive stink gland transcriptome to identify novel genes for quinone synthesis in the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum. PLoS Genet 9, e1003596.
- Schetelig MF, Scolari F, Kittelmann S, Malacrida AR, Gasperi G, Wimmer, EA (2009) Site-specific integration to modify successfully tested transgenic Ceratitis capitata (Diptera: Tephritidae) lines. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 106: 18171-6.
- Schetelig MF, Caceres C, Zacharopoulou A, Franz G, Wimmer EA (2009) Conditional embryonic lethality to improve the sterile insect technique in Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann; Diptera: Tephritidae). BMC Biology 7:4.
- The Tribolium Genome Consortium (2008). The genome of the model beetle and pest Tribolium castaneum. Nature 452:949-955.