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News archive 2011

December 2011: Christmas Event

Students, faculty and associated members enjoyed a Christmas outing on December 14. Several Popgen skaters hit the ice to prepare the grounds for the tastiest burgers in town. As an interesting and usful side effect we witnessed some successful team building between beginners and more experienced skaters who had an equally good time!

November 2011: Links with partner programs

We're happy to have established friendly ties with three partner PhD programs across Europe. Student exchange, mutual course participation and student networking is planned with GENECO in Sweden (Lund), EESLMU in Germany (Munich) and the Finnish Population Genetics Doctoral Program (Oulu, Helsinki, Turku).

November 2011: Bioinformatics Internship at Popgen Vienna

The Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics hosted Michael Würdemann (Berlin) during November 2011 for a one-month internship. Michael attends an advanced training module at Consulting & Qualification Haberhauffe Centre for Further Education to become a bioinformatics assistant. During his stay he handled and analysed Next Generation Sequencing data in collaboration with our PhD students (on the picture, Michi is on the right).

from October 2011: Fulbright Scholar Bryant McAllister

We're happy to announce that Bryant McAllister, Associate Professor at the Department of Biology (University of Iowa), decided to spend his Fulbright sabbatical at The Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics. Bryant was nominated for the prestigious Scholarship by the Austrian-American Educational Commission of the J. William Fulbright Scholarship Board in Washington D.C.

From October 2011 until end of January 2012, Bryant will investigate evolutionary consequences of sexual reproduction and interact with our PhD students through discussions and lectures.

October 2011: Faculty meeting

The second DK faculty meeting took place on October 18.

from October 2011: Visiting scientist

From October 2011 until the end of the year, Dr. Chantal Dauphin-Villemant (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Paris 6) stayed at PopGen Vienna for her collaboration with the Flatt group.

In her research, Dr. Dauphin-Villemant investigates the biogenesis and endocrine function of steroid hormones; in both insects and vertebrates, steroid hormones play major roles in the control of development, reproduction, and aging. However, although steroid signaling is well conserved throughout evolution, the precise biosynthetic pathway that leads to insect steroids is still incompletely understood.

One of Dr. Dauphin-Villemant's major aims is to elucidate this metabolic pathway and to better understand the evolution of steroids. Her group has used biochemical approaches to measure insect steroid hormones with great sensitivity and has also been involved in the characterization of several enzymatic steps of this pathway. The insights from this work have improved the tools to understand the function of these hormones.

In collaboration with Thomas Flatt’s team, Chantal Dauphin-Villemant is presently interested in characterizing the steroidogenic function of Drosophila ovaries and in unravelling how ecdysteroid production affects longevity in female fruit flies.

October 2011: PhD retreat

The yearly retreat happened on October 14-16 at the mountain resort of Feuerkogel in Upper Austria. We welcomed 29 PhD students, postdocs and faculty of The Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics as well as associate guests for research talks, brainstorming, hiking and socialising.

September 2011: Introductory course

The yearly Population Genetics Introductory Course for PhD students takes place daily during September and covers relevant basic concepts in population genetics, Drosophila genetics, statistics and bioinformatics. Our students also have the opportunity to attend the Evolutionary Genetics Workshop at IST Austria.

September 2011: 2nd DK Welcome Event

The Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics welcomes five new students! This year's Popgen Welcome Event took take place on Friday, September 2. We explored the historic Bohemian Prater and concluded the afternoon with a traditional Viennese dinner to give our Newbies Anton, Derek, Vukasin, Hester and Mikhail the opportunity to meet their experienced fellow students in a pleasant and informal surrounding.

July 2011: Summer internship for high school students

Two high school interns gained insight into experimental evolution:

We hosted Pia and Janine, two high school students, during July and August 2011 to assist PhD students of the Schlötterer and Flatt groups in projects dealing with temperature adaptation and life history evolution. Pia and Janine found the new experience rewarding, and it was a pleasure for us to work with them!

May 2011: Visiting Student

Bioinformatician Susanne Franssen is PhD student at the Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity (University of Münster, Germany). From May until the end of July she was hosted by PopGenVienna in Christian Schlötterer's group:

"I am interested in microevolutionary processes in particular with respect to adaptation to abiotic stresses. As adaptive changes in organisms and populations are to a large extent detectable via changes in gene expression, RNA-seq experiments provide the opportunity to identify genes involved in adaptation to a specific environmental stressor with the appropriate experimental design. I am following this approach in the ecological key species Zostera marina (seagrass) and the model organism Drosophila melanogaster."

May 2011: SAB meeting

The 2011 Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) meeting took place in Vienna on May 2 and 3.

May 2011: Visiting Scientist

During May 2011, Dr. Sophie Marion de Proce, postdoc at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (University of Edinburgh) was hosted by the Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics (Schlötterer group):

"During my PhD in molecular evolution in Edinburgh, I worked mainly on the evolution of non-coding DNA. I tested for patterns of natural selection in introns in Drosophila, to test hypotheses about which categories of introns were most subject to selection. I am now working as a Postdoc to investigate whether the X chromosome and the autosomes evolve differently. Using a D. pseudoobscura polymorphism dataset, we expect to observe more evidence for positive selection and faster evolutionary rates on the X chromosome. This would imply that beneficial mutations are at least partially recessive and arising from new mutations.

I am currently visiting the Institute of Population Genetics to collaborate with Christian Schlötterer's group on obtaining a genome sequence for D. affinis, in order to use it as divergence data for our D. pseudoobscura dataset."

May 2011: NGS workshop

The Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics hosted a next generation sequencing (NGS) workshop funded by the Thermadapt programme of the European Science Foundation. It took place from May 23 to 27, 2011 at the Vetmeduni Vienna, Austria.


Scientists from different fields, ranging from phylogenetics to medical research, rely increasingly on large amounts of sequence data. As this can pose a major challenge to researchers, the goal of the workshop was to intensively train the participants in the required fields needed to analyse next-generation sequencing data. The workshop featured daily lectures in the morning followed by exercises in the afternoon.

The 28 participants from all over Europe gave very positive feedback about the workshop's content and organisation.

May 2011: Book "Mechanisms of Life History Evolution"

PopGen Vienna faculty member Thomas Flatt is the co-editor of a new book entitled "Mechanisms of Life History Evolution".

April 2011: PhD selection 2011 completed

Popgen Vienna welcomes five new students
Also this year we received about 100 applications from all over the world. After intense interviewing rounds with the most promising candidates we offered five positions. Our new students will start with their projects after Summer. We happily welcome them!

April 2011: Visiting Scientist

Dr. Martin Schäfer, postdoc at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies (University of Zurich), visited PopGen Vienna (Schlötterer lab) in spring of 2011:

"My research focuses primarily on evolutionary ecology and population genetics. I am particularly interested in how sexual selection, drift and gene flow interact and contribute to phenotypic and genetic divergence between lineages. In order to approach these questions I use a variety of methods including fitness experiments in the laboratory, quantitative genetics as well as molecular tools. During my stay at the host institute I will be investigating the evolutionary diversification of male accessory gland proteins (Acps) in multiple Drosophila melanogaster populations. By comparing ancestral and derived (cosmopolitan) populations, we aim to get insights into evolutionary dynamics underlying this class of genes at the stages of differentiation before reproductive isolation has evolved."

January 2011: DK faculty meeting

The faculty convened for a first faculty meeting on January 25.

January 2011: DK Foosball Event

On 14th January PhD students, postdocs and staff met for a challenging match to inaugurate the brand new PopGen Foosball Table.

January 2011: Visiting Scientist

From January 2011, Dr. Patricia Moore (Associate Professor in Evolution and Development, University of Exeter) is hosted by The Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics.

A fundamental challenge for research in biodiversity during this critical period of climate change is to understand how organisms respond, in both the short- and long-term, to stressful environments.  Altering reproduction is one response to stressful environments, increasing an individual’s chance of survival by sacrificing the number of offspring produced.  The decision to reproduce or not under stressful conditions has been addressed in the past either in a mechanistic or ecological perspective.

Dr. Trish Moore’s research focuses how the environment affects female reproductive potential.  She investigates the evolutionary outcome of changes in the female reproductive system, the conserved physiological mechanism of oocyte apoptosis, and the role of genetics in individual variation in female fertility and response to environmental stress.

In collaboration with Dr. Thomas Flatt’s team, Dr. Moore will take a novel, integrative approach to exploring the role of reproduction in ameliorating environmental stress, using molecular genetic techniques required to study physiological mechanisms underlying life trade-offs in Drosophila

Fond zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung
vetmed uni vienna
Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology
Universität Wien