Applied Evolutionary Biology, Biotechnology

Lecturers: Matthias Affenzeller, Anja Hörger, Raimund Tenhaken, and Andreas Tribsch

The field of evolutionary biology is often thought to merely capture processes that have happened in the past rather than being applicable to current proceedings. In this course however, you will learn how evolutionary processes and inference methods can be applied to various important sectors of modern life including agriculture, medicine and conservation biology.

You will collect data on antibiotic resistance phenotypes in natural bacterial strains and sequence a potential target gene for those occurring resistances. Those data will then be used in an association study to identify mutations conferring antibiotic resistance in the studied bacterial strains.

Herbicides are toxic compounds for most plant species. To use them in aeroculture for crop plants one needs a protection mechanism that gives the crop plants a selective advantage to survive. Using soybean as an example, we will study the upregulation of detoxifying genes by qPCR. We will also discuss how resistance of weeds to certain herbicide develops.


Evolutionary processes and inference methods are applied to agriculture, medicine and conservation biology. A) Herbicide function relies on natural sensitivity of weed species to the given herbicide. B) Naturally occurring antibiotic resistance as tested in this experiment by M. Feddrizzi, R. Rüdel and A. Wimmer can be useful to identify causative resistance mutations.