Latest News

Nat Ecol Evol: The mashed-up origin of European potatoes

Posted on June 24, 2019

The origins and adaptation of the modern European potato have been unveiled using historical herbarium genomes. read more

The origins and adaptation of European potatoes reconstructed from historical genomes

Gutaker, R.M., Weiß, C.L., Ellis, D., Anglin, N.L., Knapp, S., Fernández-Alonso, J.L., Prat, S., Burbano H.A.

Nat. Ecol. Evol.

Potato, one of the most important staple crops, originates from the highlands of the equatorial Andes. There, potatoes propagate vegetatively via tubers under short days, constant throughout the year. After their introduction to Europe in the sixteenth century, potatoes adapted to a shorter growing season and to tuber formation under long days. Here, we traced the demographic and adaptive history of potato introduction to Europe. To this end, we sequenced 88 individuals that comprise landraces, modern cultivars and historical herbarium samples, including specimens collected by Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. Our findings show that European potatoes collected during the period 1650–1750 were closely related to Andean landraces. After their introduction to Europe, potatoes admixed with Chilean genotypes. We identified candidate genes putatively involved in long-day pre-adaptation, and showed that the 1650–1750 European individuals were not long-day adapted through previously described allelic variants of the CYCLING DOF FACTOR1 gene. Such allelic variants were detected in Europe during the nineteenth century. Our study highlights the power of combining contemporary and historical genomes to understand the complex evolutionary history of crop adaptation to new environments.


Biennial WeigelWorld Retreat Bad Urach 2019

Posted on May 30, 2019

Focus: Local adaptation of hosts and their pathogen read more

Over two days, we discussed strategies how to best learn the scale of local adaptation in host-pathogen interactions, and how to understand its evolutionary and molecular foundations. Central focus was our Pathodopsis project launched last year. Fun and games and hikes further stimulated our discussions!



Tübinger Fenster für Forschung, May 24

Posted on May 24, 2019

Detlef to speak about genome editing in plants read more

The Tübinger Fenster für Forschung (TÜFFF) will offer insights into local cutting edge research. It's open to all members of the public, and all ages. We'll participate with hands-on demonstrations and a public lecture on genome editing in plants.

More information here.



Recent WeigelWorld grad Moi to start his own lab

Posted on May 13, 2019

Moi will start his own group at the Carnegie Institution read more

Moi, who obtained his PhD from WeigelWorld last year, will join the Department of Plant Biology of the Carnegie Institution as a staff associate in the summer of 2019. Moi will continue to investigate whether and how plants will evolve to keep pace with climate change by conducting large-scale ecological and genome sequencing experiments. He also develops computational methods to derive fundamental principles of evolution, such as how fast natural populations acquire new mutations and how past climates shaped continental-scale biodiversity patterns. His goal is to use these first principles and computational approaches to forecast evolutionary outcomes of populations under climate change to anticipate potential future biodiversity losses. Moi will also be an assistant professor by courtesy at the Department of Biology at Stanford. For more information see his lab page.

PLoS Biology: The magic of heterosis explained

Posted on April 30, 2019

Emergence of heterosis as intrinsic property of nonlinear trait relationships read more

Nonlinear phenotypic variation uncovers the emergence of heterosis in Arabidopsis thaliana

François Vasseur , Louise Fouqueau, Dominique de Vienne, Thibault Nidelet, Cyrille Violle, Detlef Weigel 

PLoS Biology

Heterosis describes the phenotypic superiority of hybrids over their parents in traits related to agronomic performance and fitness. Understanding and predicting nonadditive inheritance such as heterosis is crucial for evolutionary biology as well as for plant and animal breeding. However, the physiological bases of heterosis remain debated. Moreover, empirical data in various species have shown that diverse genetic and molecular mechanisms are likely to explain heterosis, making it difficult to predict its emergence and amplitude from parental genotypes alone. In this study, we examined a model of physiological dominance initially proposed by Sewall Wright to explain the nonadditive inheritance of traits like metabolic fluxes at the cellular level. We evaluated Wright’s model for two fitness-related traits at the whole-plant level, growth rate and fruit number, using 450 hybrids derived from crosses among natural accessions of A. thaliana. We found that allometric relationships between traits constrain phenotypic variation in a nonlinear and similar manner in hybrids and accessions. These allometric relationships behave predictably, explaining up to 75% of heterosis amplitude, while genetic distance among parents at best explains 7%. Thus, our findings are consistent with Wright’s model of physiological dominance and suggest that the emergence of heterosis on plant performance is an intrinsic property of nonlinear relationships between traits. Furthermore, our study highlights the potential of a geometric approach of phenotypic relationships for predicting heterosis of major components of crop productivity and yield.

Heterosis primer by Diddahally R. Govindaraju

Detlef elected to American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Posted on April 18, 2019

Other new members this year include Michelle Obama & gender theorist Judith Butler read more

Detlef has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. This year, more than 200 individuals with compelling achievements in academia, business, government, and public affairs have been elected to the Academy.

The Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, and others who believed the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good. The Academy’s dual mission remains essentially the same 239 years later with honorees from increasingly diverse fields and with the work now focused on the arts, democracy, education, global affairs, and science.

The 2019 class includes poet and foundation president Elizabeth Alexander (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), gender theorist Judith Butler (University of California, Berkeley), author Jonathan Franzen, and author and former First Lady Michelle L. R. Obama. The 239th class of new members is available at this link.

“While the work of this class includes work never imagined in 1780 – such as cultural studies, cybersecurity, disease ecology, nanotechnology, paleoclimatology, and superconductivity – these members embody the founders’ vision of cultivating knowledge that advances, in their words, a ‘free, virtuous, and independent people,’” said Nancy C. Andrews, the Chair of the Board of the American Academy.

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony in October 2019 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and join the Academy members who came before them, including Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton in the eighteenth century; Ralph Waldo Emerson, Maria Mitchell, and Charles Darwin in the nineteenth; Albert Einstein, Margaret Mead, and Martin Luther King, Jr., in the twentieth. Other notable living members are Daniel Barenboim, Judith Dench, Norman Foster, Bill Gates, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Herbie Hancock, Yo-Yo Ma, Toni Morrison, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Barack Obama, Martin Scorsese, Twyla Tharp, and Denzel Washington.





Upcoming Events


MiKo Talk Frederic Berger


Julian's PhD defense

11 am, Sand 1, room A301

Julian will defend his PhD thesis entitled 'Use of Whole Genome Shotgun Sequencing for the Analysis of Microbial Communities in Arabidopsis thaliana Leaves'


Studium Generale

6.15 pm
Kupferbau HS 21, Tübingen

Public lecture by Detlef on the similarities and differences between spontaneous mutations and genome editing (in German)