Prof. Christian Schlötterer - Speaker, Institute of Population Genetics

Christian Schlötterer


Professor, Institute of Population Genetics
Vetmeduni Vienna


Research area: Experimental population genetics

Christian Schlötterer has a long-term research interest to understand the evolutionary forces shaping molecular variation in natural populations. He made substantial contributions describing the partitioning of variation among natural D. melanogaster and D. simulans populations.

Furthermore, he has pioneered the identification of selection in natural populations by using microsatellite variability. Using a similar rationale, Christian Schlötterer developed a microsatellite-based system for the identification of selective sweeps in experimental E. coli populations. Using this system, he obtained insights into the distribution of effect sizes among positive mutations occurring during the experimental evolution experiments.

Christian Schlötterer also studied the evolution of gene expression by comparing the pattern of sex-biased gene expression in D. pseudoobscura to D. melanogaster. More recently, Christian is using next generation sequencing to address questions in population genetics, genome evolution and transcriptomics.

Prof. Joachim Hermisson - Deputy Speaker, Faculty of Mathematics

Joachim Hermisson

Deputy Speaker

Professor, Faculty of Mathematics
University of Vienna


Research area: Theoretical population genetics

Joachim Hermisson's work is on theoretical population genetics where he combines molecular, phenotypic, and ecological approaches. He is particularly interested in the evolutionary conditions for adaptation and speciation. Another research focus is on the effects of gene-gene and gene-environment interactions on genetic variation and the adaptive process (epistatis and evolvability) and on the evolution of the genotype-phenotype map (robustness, canalization, and modularity). The methods used in his studies include analytical approaches from various mathematical fields (differential equations, stochastic processes, coalescent theory, statistics) and computer simulations (both time-forward and coalescent).

Prof. Reinhard Bürger, Faculty of Mathematics

Reinhard Bürger

Professor, Faculty of Mathematics
University of Vienna


Research area: Mathematical population genetics

Most of Reinhard Bürger's research has been concerned with the equilibrium and evolutionary properties of quantitative traits under various forms of selection. Since such traits are typically determined by many gene loci, the analysis of multilocus models and the development of appropriate methods have been a major research focus. Among others, Bürger studied models of mutation, stabilizing selection, and random genetic drift, and he derived approximations for the equilibrium distribution of a quantitative trait subject to these forces. He also analyzed the evolutionary response to various forms of directional and fluctuating selection, and investigated the role of recombination and sexual reproduction for the magnitude of the selection response. Further, he studied how the evolution of multivariate traits depends on the patterns of pleiotropic mutation and multivariate selection. Further research topics include the extinction risk of endangered populations, the evolution of phenotypic mutation rates (errors during transcription and translation), and the origin of evolution.

Prof. Andreas Futschik, Biostatistics

Andreas Futschik

Professor, Vetmeduni Vienna and
Johannes Kepler University Linz


Research area: Biostatistics

Andreas Futschik is interested in the development and analysis of statistical methodology, and its application in a biostatistical and in particular genetic context. His work has been published both in statistics and in genetics journals. A focus of his work in statistics has been on multiple hypothesis testing and nonparametric inference. In genetics, he participated in the development of QTL mapping methods based on statistical model selection in the context of multiple regression models with epistasis. He also obtained multiple testing corrections in the context of sequence alignment when multiple scoring matrices are used. In population genetics, he proved the inadmissibility of Watterson's estimator.

Robert Kofler

Priv.-Doz., Institute of Population Genetics, Vetmeduni Vienna


Research area: Polygenic adaptation and transposable elements

Given the outstanding importance of transposable elements (TE) for genome evolution, adaptation to novel environments and human diseases, our knowledge about the evolution of TE dynamics is surprisingly limited. Why are some species, like Arabidopsis thaliana, almost free of transposons while for other species, like Paris japonica, transposons constitute bulk of the genome? Why are some species, like humans, mostly containing RNA transposons while other's like Caenorhabditis are mostly containing DNA transposons? It is my aim to shed light on the forces that drive the evolution of TE content and composition in different species. I approach these questions both at a macroevolutionary level, comparing the TE content in related species, and at a microevolutionary level, investigating TE activity in experimentally evolving populations.

I'm also interested in novel methods that allow to dissect the genetic basis of quantitative traits. Most of the variation of traits relevant in medicine, agriculture, sociobiology, ecology and evolution is quantitative. Understanding the genetic basis of such quantitative (or complex) traits is considered key for improving crop yield, leveraging personalized medicine and comprehending poorly understood evolutionary processes such as extinctions, adaptation, speciation, canalization and phenotypic plasticity. It is thus not surprising that unraveling the genetic basis of quantitative or complex traits is considered to be a key challenge for biology in the 21st century.

Marcus Nordborg, Genetics of adaptation

Magnus Nordborg

Scientific Director, Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology, Austrian Academy of Sciences


Research area: Genetics of adaptation

Magnus Nordborg's main research interest is the genetic basis of adaptation. His group seeks to learn more about the number and types of genetic differences that underlie adaptive differences, and tries to understand their evolutionary dynamics. The group uses a combination of empirical and theoretical approaches, ranging from gene mapping and system biology in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, to the development of basic population genetics models. Magnus Nordborg has published over 60 papers on topics ranging from basic population genetics theory to the regulation of flowering in A. thaliana. Since January 1, 2009, he is director of the Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology in Vienna.

Ovidiu Paun

Assoc. Professor, Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research
University of Vienna


Research area: Gene flow and adaptation

Ovidiu Paun broadly focuses on understanding rapid adaptation and diversification, with an emphasis on the evolutionary impacts of hybridization and/or polyploidy. He uses state-of-the-art comparative genomics on natural populations, integrating molecular data in the environmental context to explain the origin of biodiversity and its dynamics. An important theme in Ovidiu’s recent work has been the exploration of the role of epigenetic variation in adaptive evolution. His main current work uses environmental transcriptomics and high throughput sequencing to investigate the adaptive diffusion of a series of sibling allopolyploid Dactylorhiza species (Orchidaceae).

Claus Vogl, Assistant Professor, Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna

Claus Vogl

Priv.-Doz., Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding
Vetmeduni Vienna


Research area: Data analysis in population and quantitative genetics, and linkage mapping

Claus Vogl has worked extensively in the theory and analysis of population and quantitative genetic and linkage data. He has developed probabilistic Bayesian approaches in these areas and has analyzed many datasets with these methods. Particularly relevant to hybridization is his work on mapping transmission ratio distorting loci (TRDL), since in this case the phenotype is a distorted segregation ratio. This is known to occur as a result of outbreeding depression, when two widely separated populations come into secondary contact, e.g., when widely separated populations are crossed to maximize genetic distance for mapping or during natural hybridization. Furthermore, Claus Vogl also has experience in investigating on population subdivision using Bayesian methods from his earlier work.

Barbara Wallner

Priv.-Doz., Institute of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Vetmeduni Vienna


Research area: Molecular evolution

My research focusses on the impact of human breeding strategies on the genome of domestic animals. By combining genomic data with historic records, I address not only demographic but also general evolutionary and population genetic questions. My methodological work includes the generation of draft assemblies for Y chromosomes from short read NGS data and developing strategies for well-defined haplotype reconstruction.

Christian Lexer (1971-2019)

Professor, Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, University of Vienna

PopGen Vienna students and faculty are shaken and deeply saddened by the loss of our dear colleague, faculty member and PhD advisor Christian Lexer. Our thoughts are with his wife and children and all members of his family.



Christian Lexer: A lifelong passion for trees - 2020 - Molecular Ecology


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