Bettina Schirrmeister

Table of contents

Research Interests

Cyanobacteria are assumed to have raised oxygen levels in the Earth's atmosphere 2.3 billion years ago. This, so called "Great Oxidation Event" marked one of the most dramatic environmental changes in the history of this planet. Subsequently cyanobacteria managed to adapt to a variety of different habitats, evolving diverse morphotypes. They are one of the few prokaryotic phyla that evolved multicellularity and probably the only ones to evolve terminal cell differentiation. It is known that 2.0 billion years ago cyanobacteria already exhibited all of their present morphotypes, but when and how these morphotypes evolved is still a mystery. To understand more about the origins of these complex forms could provide fundamental information not only on the history of cyanobacteria, but on the evolution of life at the Archean/Precambrian boundary. I try to answer these questions using various phylogenetic methods, such as character state analysis or divergence time estimations.


Education and Professional Positions

2007 - 2012 Ph.D. student in Evolutionary Genetics, Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Switzerland
2006 - 2007 Fieldwork in Budongo Forest, Uganda, Africa, on behalf of the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
2005 - 2006 M.Sc. in Population Genetics, Institute of Zoology, University of Munich, Germany (Thesis: Searching for evidence of natural selection on the X-chromosome of European populations of Drosophila melanogaster)
2003 - 2005 Undergraduate Studies in Anthropology, Zoology, Evolutionary Biology and Palaeontology, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany
2003 - 2005 Undergraduate research assistant, Evolutionary Biology, Institute of Zoology, Ludwig- Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany
2000 - 2003 Undergraduate Studies (Vordiplom) in Biology, Justus-Liebig University, Giessen, Germany