Juliane Hartke

Ph.D. Student
Member of Research Group 'Molecular Ecology'

Project: Evolution, genetic basis and behavioural consequences of cuticular hydrocarbon profiles in parabiotic ants

Research interests

My PhD project focuses on the genomic basis of cuticular hydrocarbon (CHC) evolution. CHCs in insects evolved as a barrier against desiccation, though they also play an important role in chemical communication, as they for example show information about an individual’s species- and colony membership. The neotropical ant species Crematogaster levior shares a nest with its obligate parabiotic partner Camponotus femoratus. In such species associations, chemical communication via CHCs is an important factor to mediate the acceptance by the respective partner. Interestingly, in both species the CHC profile is highly variable. By studying the genomic basis of cuticular hydrocarbon evolution in C. levior, we want to gain insight into the mechanisms underlying the coevolution in these non-model organisms. In addition, we analyse the two existing chemotypes in regard to species separation and intraspecific chemical plasticity. To do so, we conduct population genetic analyses, whole genome sequencing and combine this with behavioural observations in the field.


Since 07/2016 PhD on “Evolution, genetic basis and behavioural consequences of cuticular hydrocarbon profiles in parabiotic ants” in the Molecular Ecology Group at the Biodiversity & Climate Research Centre Frankfurt
10/2014 – 06/2016  Master of Science (Biology), Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Study emphasis: Evolutionary biology, Evolutionary Anthropology, Paleo genetics, Population genetics
Master thesis: “Intraspecific variation in Temnothorax nylanderi: behavioural and dietary traits”
10/2010 – 10/2013 Bachelor of Science (Biology), Universität Osnabrück
Study emphasis: Evolutionary and behavioural ecology, Zoology
Bachelor thesis: “Influence of volatile and tactile communication on reproductive regulation in the lower termite Cryptotermes secundus”