Emeritus Group Lampert
During his time as director at the MPI for Limnology, Winfried Lampert developed an evolutionary approach to understanding the interactions in aquatic ecosystems. One result of his work was the establishment of microcrustaceans of the genus Daphnia (water flea) as model organisms for ecological and ecogenomic research. Since the genome of Daphnia pulex was sequenced, and described in 2011, this goal has been achieved.
Water flea do not only play a key role in lake ecosystems, they are also easy to cultivate in the laboratory, and they offer unique possibilities for research due to cyclical parthenogenesis, i.e. the switch between asexual (clonal) and sexual reproduction. In 2011, Winfried Lampert published a book that describes the particular features making Daphnia a model organism. At present, he is analyzing and publishing the results of so far unpublished experiments with Daphnia dealing with the role of genetic variability and sexual reproduction in the evolution of overwintering strategies. Other experiments with Daphnia study the optimal habitat choice in lakes with vertical gradients of light, temperature, oxygen, and food conditions. This includes strategies of avoiding cyanobacteria of poor food quality, and the use of low-oxygen zones as refugia from fish predation. In addition, Winfried Lampert started a comprehensive synthesis of the results gained with Daphnia research in ecology, evolutionary biology, physiology, and toxicology.