Can populations adapt to a changing environment via evolutionary adaptation? Which roles do epigenetic versus genomic changes play for such adaptation? What is the interaction between ecological compositional changes as response to warming or ocean acidification versus the evolutionary change within populations? Can clonal organisms evolve?

These are the questions our group is addressing in organisms that range from phytoplankton, seagrasses, zooplankton species to (commercially important) fish species. Strong ecological interactions such as harvesting, host-parasite interactions and invasive species in their new habitat are prime examples where evolution-in-action can be observed in real time in the marine realm.

Our research is integrated into the initiatives Kiel Evolution Centre, the Kiel Plant Center and the Research Training Group Translational Evolutionary Research. We are also full members of the Kiel Life Science (KLS) at Kiel University.

Scientists and Postdoctoral Researchers

For more Information click on group member photo.

Doctoral students

Former members of Research Group

Current Projects

  • "Endophytes and local adaptation modulate aquatic plant responses to warming and anoxia stress", funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft within Kiel University Research Group PlantCoChallenge (coordionation Prof Eva Stukenbrock), Co-PI Prof Sabine Hilt, IGB Berlin,  2024-2028

  • "SeaStore - Diversity Enhancement through Seagrass Restoration", funded by BMBF Mare: N programme, coordinator Dr. Maike Paul, LUFI Univ Hannover, 2020-2023, see www.seegraswiesen.de

  • “Adaptive asexual evolution in corals, cancer and seagrasses – AdaptAsex“, funded by Human Frontiers of Science Programme (HFSP). Co-PIs Iliana Baums, Penn State Univ, USA; Benjamin Werner, Queen Mary University London.
    See key publication: Reusch TBH, Baums IB, Werner B (2021) Evolution via somatic genetic variation in modular species. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 36: 1083-1092 incl link https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2021.08.011
  • “Fisheries induced evolution“, funded by DFG-funded Research Training Group Translational Evolutionary Research TransEvo (coordinator Hinrich Schulenburg, U Kiel) ; Co-PI Martin Quaas, iDIV, 2020-2023

    Recently completed projects
  • "Microbiota – host interactions at the base of the metazoan tree", funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft within Collaborative Research Center 1182 Origin and Function of the Metaorganism,  Co-PI Ruth Schmitz-Streit, U Kiel,  2016-2023
  • "Seagrass Blue Carbon", funded by Helmholtz-Society Climate Initiative Germany Net Zero 2050, work package 4 natural carbon storage systems,  2019-2021; see summary of results here (https://atlas.netto-null.org/contribution/113) Helmholtz Climate Initiative Netto-Null Atlas, chapter 113".
  • funded by EU-BONUS: MARES Multi-method Assessment for Resilient Ecosystem Services and human-nature system integration  (coordinator Dr. Maurizio Sajeva, Pellervo Economic Research, Finland), 2018-2020
  • funded by European Union /BONUS programme: "BIO-C3 Biodiversity changes-causes, consequences and management implications". Coordinator Thorsten Reusch, 13 partners in total, 2014-2017

    see key publication:
    Reusch TBH, Dierking J, Andersson HC, Bonsdorff E, Carstensen J, Casini M, Czajkowski M, Hasler B, Hinsby K, Hyytiäinen K, Johannesson K, Jomaa S, Jormalainen V, Kuosa H, Kurland S, Laikre L, MacKenzie BR, Margonski P, Melzner F, Oesterwind D, Ojaveer H, Refsgaard JC, Sandström A, Schwarz G, Tonderski K, Winder M, Zandersen M (2018) The Baltic Sea as a time machine for the future coastal ocean. Science Advances 4:eaar8195
  • funded by European Union /BONUS programme: "BAMBI-Baltic Sea marine biodiversity – addressing the potential of adaptation to climate change", 2014-2017

    see novel publication:

    Heckwolf, M. J., B. S. Meyer, R. Häsler, M. P. Höppner, C. Eizaguirre, and T. B. H. Reusch. 2020. Two different epigenetic information channels in wild three-spined sticklebacks are involved in salinity adaptation. Sci Adv 6:eaaz1138https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/12/eaaz1138

    see key publication:
    Heckwolf MJ, Meyer BS, Döring T, Eizaguirre C, Reusch TBH (2018) Transgenerational plasticity and selection shape the adaptive potential of sticklebacks to salinity change. Evolutionary Applications 11:1873-1885. https://doi.org/10.1111/eva.12688
  • funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG (within priority program DYNATRAIT) "Eco-evolutionary coupling in competing marine phytoplankton communities". 2014-2017. Collaboration with Dr. Birte Matthiessen, GEOMAR EÖ-N. People involved: Luisa Listmann

Recent key publications

For a full overview on my publications see my google scholar profile https://scholar.google.de/citations?user=ux41yIwAAAAJ&hl=en"

  • Yu L, Khachaturyan M, Matschiner M, Healey A, Bauer D, Cameron B, Cusson M, Emmett Duffy J, Joel Fodrie F, Gill D, Grimwood J, Hori M, Hovel K, Hughes AR, Jahnke M, Jenkins J, Keymanesh K, Kruschel C, Mamidi S, Menning DM, Moksnes P-O, Nakaoka M, Pennacchio C, Reiss K, Rossi F, Ruesink JL, Schultz ST, Talbot S, Unsworth R, Ward DH, Dagan T, Schmutz J, Eisen JA, Stachowicz JJ, Van De Peer Y, Olsen JL, Reusch,TBH (2023) Ocean current patterns drive the worldwide colonization of eelgrass (Zostera marina). Nature Plants online early, doi 10.1038/s41477-023-01464-3

see also research briefing: Reusch, TBH, Olsen JL (2023) Reconstructing the worldwide colonization history of the world’s most widespread marine plant. Nature Plants online early doi 10.1038/s41477-023-01465-2

  • Reusch,TBH, Baums IB, Werner B (2021) Evolution via somatic genetic variation in modular species. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 36: 1083-1092
  • Jaspers C, Ehrlich M, Pujolar JM, Künzel S, Bayer T, Limborg MT, Lombard F, Browne WE, Stefanova K, Reusch, TBH (2021) Invasion genomics uncover contrasting scenarios of genetic diversity in a widespread marine invader. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118: e2116211118 doi 10.1073/pnas.2116211118
  • Yu, L., C. Boström, S. Franzenburg, T. Bayer, T. Dagan, and Reusch, TBH  (2020). Somatic genetic drift and multilevel selection in a clonal seagrass. Nature Ecology & Evolution 4:952–962. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-020-1196-4
    see also https://natureecoevocommunity.nature.com/posts/the-evolving-clone
  • Roth O., Solbakken M.H., Tørresen O.K., Bayer T., Matschiner M., Baalsrud H.T., Hoff S.N.K., Brieuc M.S.O., D. Haase D., Hanel R, Reusch, TBH*, Jentoft S.* (2020). Evolution of male pregnancy associated with remodeling of canonical vertebrate immunity in seahorses and pipefishes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, online early: doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1916251117. *equal contrib
  • Heckwolf, M. J., Meyer,B.S., Häsler, R., Höppner, M. P., Eizaguirre, C., and Reusch TBH, 2020. Two different epigenetic information channels in wild three-spined sticklebacks are involved in salinity adaptation. Sci Adv 6:eaaz1138. https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/12/eaaz1138
  • Laikre, L., S. Hoban, M. W. Bruford, G. Segelbacher, F. W. Allendorf, G. Gajardo, A. G. Rodríguez, P. W. Hedrick, M. Heuertz, P. A. Hohenlohe, R. Jaffé, K. Johannesson, L. Liggins, A. J. MacDonald, P. OrozcoterWengel,  Reusch TBH. Rodríguez-Correa, I.-R. M. Russo, N. Ryman, and C. Vernesi. 2020. Post-2020 goalsoverlookgeneticdiversity. Science 367:1083
  • Reusch TBH, Dierking J., Andersson H.C., Bonsdorff E., Carstensen J., Casini M., Czajkowski M., Hasler B., Hinsby K., Hyytiäinen K., Johannesson K., Jomaa S., Jormalainen V., Kuosa H., Kurland S., Laikre L., MacKenzie B.R., Margonski P., Melzner F., Oesterwind D., Ojaveer H., Refsgaard J.C., Sandström A., Schwarz G., Tonderski K., Winder M., Zandersen M. (2018), The Baltic Sea as a time machine for the future coastal ocean. Science Advances 4:eaar8195
  • Breusing C., Biastoch A., Drews A., Metaxas A., Jollivet D., Vrijenhoek R.C., Bayer T., Melzner F., Sayavedra L., Petersen J.M., Dubilier N., Schilhabel M.B., Rosenstiel P., Reusch TBH (2016) Biophysical and population genetic models predict presence of "phantom" stepping stones connecting Mid-Atlantic Ridge vent ecosystems. Current Biology 26:2257–2267
  • Olsen J.L.*, Rouzé P., Verhelst B., Lin Y.-C., Bayer T., Collén J., Dattolo E., De Paoli E., Dittami S., Maumus F., Michel G., Kersting A., Lauritano C., Lohaus R., Töpel M., Tonon T., Vanneste K., Amirebrahimi M., Brakel J., Boström C., Chovatia M., Grimwood J., Jenkins J., Jüterbock A., Mraz A., Stam W.T., Tice H., Bornberg-Bauer E., Green P., Pearson G., Procaccini G., Duarte C., Schmutz J., Reusch TBH.*, Van de Peer Y.* (2016) The genome of the seagrass Zostera marina reveals angiosperm adaptation to the sea. Nature 530: 331-335 doi: 10.1038/nature16548  *equal contribution (cover story)