Dr. Olivia Roth


Research Division 3: Marine Ecology
Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Fishes

GEOMAR | Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

Room: A 36
Phone: +49-431 600 4557
Fax: +49-431 600 4553
E-Mail: oroth(at)geomar.de

Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR)
Düsternbrooker Weg 20
D-24105 Kiel

 born 15th of January 1983 in Switzerland


  • 06/2012 - present: Junior Group Leader at GEOMAR
  • 01/2015 - 11/2015: Maternity leave
  • 04/2009 - 05/2012: Postdoc at the Geomar with Thorsten Reusch
  • 05/2006 - 03/2009: PhD at the ETH Zurich (Switzerland) and the Westfälische Wilhelms Universität (Germany) with Paul Schmid-Hempel and Joachim Kurtz
  • 10/2004 - 04/2006: Master of Science in Animal Biology, University of Basel (Switzerland) with Dieter Ebert
  • 10/2001 - 09/2004: Bachelor of Science in Organismic Biology, University of Basel (Switzerland)

research focus of the junior group "parental investment and immune dynamics"

  • our research focuses on questions about host-parasite interactions, within the framework of sexual immune dimorphism and parental investment, phenotypic plasticity of immune defence, local adaptation and effect of environmental change on host immune defence and parasite virulence
  • to answer these questions we use the pipefish Syngnathus typhle as a host, and Vibrio bacteria and trematods of the species Cryptocotyle lingua as parasites
  • we try to disentangle sex from parental investment by using the advantage of our sex-role reversed model system to test theories in the field of evolutionary biology from a different angle
  • we are interested in the selection pressures for transfer of immunity from both father and mothers to offspring and in the differences in immune efficiency between males and females
  • as a novel aspect we integrate a third player: lysogenicVibrio bacteria phages, to evaluate the evolution from friendly to nasty in a tri-partite interaction
  • more information about the current projects

pipefish group members

  • Anne Beemelmanns, PhD student: "The mechanistic basis of paternal immune priming in the pipefish Syngnathus typhle"
  • Andrea Franke, PhD student in FineAqua
  • Isabel Keller, PhD student:"Trans-generational immune priming on a parental care gradient in cichlids"
  • Carolin Wendling, Post Doc
  • Maude Poirier, Technician
  • Martin Grimm, Hiwi

group picture

bottom (from left to right): Caterina Schlott, Isabel Keller (PhD student), Olivia Roth, Carolin Wendling (Postdoc), Maude Poirier (Technician), Joao Gladek (Master student); top (from left to right): Agnes Hüttmann (former Master student), Susie Landis (former PhD student), Anne Beemelmanns (PhD student)

about our research


  1. Beemelmanns A & Roth O (2016). Biparental immune priming in the pipefish Syngnathus typhle. Zoology. accepted.
  2. Landis SH, Sundin J, Rosenqvist G, Poirier M, Oistensen Jorensen G & Roth O (2015). Female pipefish can detect the immune status of their mates. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 12: 1917-1923.
  3. Joop G, Roth O, Schmid-Hempel P & Kurtz J (2014). Balancing external and internal immune defences in an insect. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 27: 1562-1571.
  4. Roth O, Sundin J, Berglund A, Rosenqvist G & Wegner KM (2014). Male mate choice relies on MHC class I in a sex-role reversed fish. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 27: 929-938.
  5. Diepeveeen E, Roth O, Salzburger W (2013). Immune-related function of the HIVEP gene family in East African Cichlid Fishes. G3 - Genes Genomes Genetics 3: 2205-2217.
  6. Bolte S, Roth O, Philipp EER, Saphörster J, Rosensteiel P & Reusch TBH (2013). Specific immune priming in the invasive ctenophore, Mnemiopsis leidyi. Biology Letters 9.
  7. Haase D*, Roth O*, Kalbe M, Schmiedeskamp G, Scharsack JP, Rosenstiel B & Reusch TBH (2013). Functional absence of MHC class II mediated immunity in pipefish Syngnathus typhleBiology Letters 9.               * authors contributed equally
  8. Roth O, Klein V, Beemelmanns A, Scharsack JP & Reusch TBH (2012). Male pregnancy and bi-parental immune priming. American Naturalist 180: 802-814.
  9. Birrer S, Reusch TBH & Roth O (2012). Lowered salinity under global change will impair pipefish immune defence. Fish & Shellfish Immunology, 33: 1238-1248. downloadhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fsi.2012.08.028
  10. Landis SH, Sundin J, Rosenqvist G & Roth O (2012). Behavioural adjustments of a pipefish to a bacterial Vibrio infection. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 66: 1399-1405. download
  11. Roth O, Keller I, Landis SH, Salzburger W & Reusch TBH (2012). Hosts are ahead in a marine host-parasite coevolutionary arms race: innate immune system adaptation in pipefish Syngnathus typhle against Vibrio phylotypes. Evolution, 66: 2528-2539. download
  12. Landis SH, Kalbe M, Reusch TBH & Roth O (2012). Consistent pattern of local adaptation during an experimental heat wave in a pipefish-trematode host-parasite system. Plos One, 7: e30658. download
  13. Roth O, Scharsack, JP, Keller I & Reusch TBH (2011). Bateman´s principle and immunity in a sex-role reversed pipefish. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 24 (7), 1410-1420. download
  14. Asshoff R & Roth O (2011). Fostering students´inquirey skills: Developmental time & offspring rates of flour beetles. The American Biology Teacher 73 (4), 232-237. download
  15. Roth O, Kurtz J, Reusch TBH (2010). A summer heat wave decreases the immunocompetence of the mesograzer, Idotea baltica. Marine Biology 157 (7), 1605-1611. download
  16. Roth O, Joop G, Eggert H, Hilbert J, Daniel J, Schmid-Hempel P & Kurtz J (2010). Paternally derived immune priming for offspring in the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum. Journal of Animal Ecology 79 (2), 403-410 . downloadhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2008.1157
  17. Roth O & Kurtz J (2009). Phagocytosis mediates specificity in the immune defence of an invertebrate, the woodlouse Porcellia scaber (Crustacea: Isopoda). Dev Comp Immunol 33 (11), 1151-1155. download
  18. Roth O, Sadd BM, Schmid-Hempel P & Kurtz J (2009). Strain-specific priming of resistance in the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum. Proc R Soc B-Biol Sci 276, 145-151. download
  19. Roth O & Kurtz J (2008). The stimulation of immune defence accelerates development in the red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum). Journal of Evolutionary Biology 21 (6), 1703-1710. download
  20. Roth O, Ebert D, Vizoso DB, Bieger A & Lass S (2008). Male-biased sex-ratio distortion caused by Octosporea bayeri, a vertically and horizontally transmitted parasite of Daphnia magna. International Journal for Parasitology 38; 969-979. download