The main interest of the research group is the genesis of organismic diversity, in particular of flowers. The present diversity is the result of a million yearlong evolution characterised by continuous change, innovation and adaptation. To understand the complex evolutionary background, we follow a multi-disciplinary approach.
- We investigate growth and form of plants starting with the initation of primordia and following their development up to the adult form. We use scanning electron microscopy (SEM), histology and life imaging-microscopy. Results are relevant for character evolution, evo-devo research and modelling of growth processes.
- We analyse the functional construction of flowers in their ecological context. For this purpose, we conduct biomechanical, pollination and reproductive biological experiments in the lab (force measurements in flowers), in the Botanical Garden (choice experiments with bumblebees and honeybees on artificial flowers) and in the field (present projects: California, Peru, Turkey). Our results increase the understanding of life conditions and interactions of plants with their environment and are useful for conservation biology.
The present model system is the genus Salvia (Lamiaceae), famous for the lever-like pollination mechanism. Developmental and functional data of flowers are referred to molecular trees and used for the reconstruction of evolutionary processes.