Martin Kaltenpoth (Johannes Guttenberg University)

Martin Kaltenpoth (Johannes Guttenberg University)

Butler Seminar Series

Event Date/Location

November 30, 2016 - 12:00 pm
Thomas Laboratory 003


  • Photo of Martin Kaltenpoth

    Martin Kaltenpoth

    Professor of Evolutionary Ecology
    Johannes Guttenberg University

    Martin Kaltenpoth obtained his MSc and PhD degrees from the University of Würzburg, followed by postdoctoral research at the University of Regensburg and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. In 2009, he established the Insect Symbiosis Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena. Since 2015, he is full professor for Evolutionary Ecology at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. His research focuses on the evolution, chemical and molecular ecology of insect-microbe symbioses, with a special interest in defensive alliances.


Outsourcing immunity: Microbial symbionts for pathogen defense in insects

Symbiotic associations with microbes are important driving forces of evolutionary innovation. While many symbioses have a nutritional basis, an increasing number of defensive alliances are being discovered, particularly in insects. We found that two taxonomically distant insect groups, solitary digger wasps (the so-called “beewolves”) and a group of herbivorous beetles, are associated with antibiotic-producing bacteria that defend the developing insect offspring from pathogenic fungi. In both cases, protection is mediated by a cocktail of antimicrobial compounds, in analogy to combination treatments used in human medicine. I will discuss the evolutionary origin, ecological dynamics, and molecular basis of these defensive symbiotic alliances as well as the consequences for the symbiotic partners. Insects and their protective symbionts do not only provide a glimpse into how organisms of different kingdoms team up for defense, but also present promising sources of novel bioactive molecules and allow to study the action of these chemicals in an ecological and evolutionary context.


Free and open to the university community and the public.


Mohamed Donia & Ned Wingreen, Department of Molecular Biology