Research group - Parental Investment and Immune Dynamics


Why males and females exist and how sex roles have evolved belong to the most controversial issues in evolutionary biology. My group examines the evolution of male pregnancy in pipefishes and seahorses (syngnathids) by addressing its genetic basis and the modulations of the immune system. Insights into joint and distinct loss or recruitment of genes along with the establishment of novel genes for male vs. female pregnancy, will help to unravel convergent evolution of parental investment and pregnancy.


Junior Group - Parental Investment and Immune Dynamics - July 2017



Olivia Roth - Group Leader
Carolin Wendling - Postdoc
Isabel Tanger - Postdoc
Henry Göhlich - PhD Student
Alejandro Ceron Noriega - PhD Student
Verena Klein - Technician
Linda Sartoris - Master Student


Convergent evolution of immunological tolerance in female and male pregnancy DFG Project - PI: Dr. Olivia Roth

Implications of anthropogenic stressors on rapid coadaptation in a tripartite species interaction  DFG Priority Programme - Rapid evolutionary Adaptation - PI: Dr. Carolin Wendling, Co-PI: Dr. Olivia Roth

MALEPREG: Male pregnancy - unravelling the coevolution of parental Investment and immune defence ERC Starting Grant - PI: Dr. Olivia Roth


  1. Egger B, Rösti M, Böhne A, Roth O & Salzburger W. 2017. Demography and genome divergence of lake and stream populations of an East African cichlid fish. Molecular Ecology. Early online.

  2. Franke A, Clemmesen C, De Schryver P, Garcia-Gonzalez L, Miest JJ & Roth O. 2017. Immunostimulatory effects of dietary poly-β-hydroxybutyrate in European sea bass juveniles. Aquaculture Nutrition. Early online.
  3. Wendling CC, Piecyk A, Refardt D, Chibani C, Hertel R, Liesegang H, Bunk B & Roth O. 2017. Tripartite species interaction: eukaryotic hosts suffer more from phage susceptible than from phage resistant bacteria. BMC Evolutionary Biology 17: 98. DOI 10.1186/s12862-017-0930-2
  4. Poirier M, Listmann L & Roth O. 2017. Selection by higher-order effects of salinity and bacteria on early life-stages of Western Baltic spring-spawning herring. Evolutionary Applications, in press. DOI: 10.1111/eva.12477
  5. Roth O & Landis SH. 2017. Trans-generational plasticity in response to immune challenge is constrained by heat stress, Evolutionary Applications, early online. DOI: 10.1111/eva.12473
  6. Beemelmanns A & Roth O. 2017. Grandparental immune priming in the pipefish Syngnathus typhle. BMC Evolutionary Biology 17: 44. DOI: 10.1186/s12862-017-0885-3
  7. Theis A, Roth O, Cortesi F, Ronco F, Salzburger W & Egger B. 2017. Variation of anal fin egg-spots along an environmental gradient in a haplochromine cichlid fish. Evolution 71: 766-777. DOI:10.1111/evo.13166
  8. Beemelmanns A & Roth O. Bacteria-type specific biparental immune priming in the pipefish Syngnathus typhle. Ecology & Evolution 6: 6735 – 6767. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.2391
  9. Beemelmanns A & Roth O (2016). Biparental immune priming in the pipefish Syngnathus typhle. Zoology 119: 262 - 272.
  10. Landis SH, Sundin J, Rosenqvist G, Poirier M, Oistensen Jorgensen G & Roth O (2015). Female pipefish can detect the immune status of their mates. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 12: 1917-1923. doi:10.1007/s00265015-2004-7
  11. 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. doi: 10.1111/jeb.12406
  12.  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. doi. 10.1111/jeb.12365  
  13. Bolte S, Roth O, Philipp EER, Saphörster J, Rosenstiel P & Reusch TBH (2013). Specific immune priming in the invasive ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi. Biology Letters 9. doi: 10.1098/rsbi.2013.0864
  14. Diepeveen 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. doi: 10.1534/g3.113.008839/-/DC1
  15. 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 typhle. Biology Letters 9. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0044 * authors contributed equally
  16. Roth O, Klein V, Beemelmanns A, Scharsack JP & Reusch TBH (2012). Male pregnancy and bi-parental immune priming. American Naturalist, 180: 802-814. doi: 10.1086/668081
  17. Birrer S, Reusch TBH & Roth O (2012). Lowered salinity under global change will impair pipefish immune defence. Fish & Shellfish Immunology, 33: 1238-1248. doi:
  18.  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. doi: 10.1007/s00265-012-1395-3
  19. 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. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2012.01614.x.
  20. 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. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030658
  21. 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. doi:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02273.x
  22. Asshoff R & Roth O (2011). Fostering students´inquirey skills: Developmental time & offspring rates of flour beetles. The American Biology Teacher 73 (4), 232-237. doi:
  23. 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. doi:10.1007/s00227-010-1433-5
  24. 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 . doi:10.1098/rspb.2008.1157
  25. 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. doi:10.1016/j.dci.2009.04.005
  26. 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. doi:10.1098/rspb.2008.1157
  27. 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. doi:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2008.01584.x
  28. 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. doi.10.1016/j.ijpara.2007.11.009

Articles about our research


Isabel Tanger - PhD defence - May 2017
Andrea Franke - PhD defence - December 2016

Anne Beemelmanns - PhD defence - May 2016
Pipefish Experiment - June 2017