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Dr. Ludo A. H. Muller


Institut für Biologie

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

Systematische Botanik und Pflanzengeographie

My main research interests lie in the fields of population genetics and molecular ecology. Population genetics is the study concerned with the genetic variation present within species, the distribution of this variation within and across populations, and how this variation evolves through space and time. This transformation of genetic variation within species (microevolution) constitutes the fundamental basis of evolution and therefore the field of population genetics lies at the very heart of evolutionary biology. Molecular ecology applies, amongst others, methods developed for population genetics to address a wide range of ecological questions. Topics dealt with in this field include interactions between organisms and between organisms and their physical environment, conservation of endangered species, molecular adaptation and speciation, to name just a few.

More specifically, my research focuses on the adaptation of plants and fungi to “extreme” edaphic conditions such as those prevalent at serpentine sites. Typical for serpentine soils, which are formed by the weathering of ultramafic rocks, are low calcium-to-magnesium ratios, low calcium concentrations, elevated concentrations of heavy metals, a deficiency of essential nutrients and drought. These soil characteristics often present a major challenge to exposed biota and have repeatedly promoted the evolution of locally adapted populations through natural selection. In certain cases, this has led to the formation of endemic species that show constitutive tolerance to the soil characteristics of serpentine sites. Currently, I am studying various aspects of local serpentine adaptation in the perennial plant Onosma echioides (Boraginaceae) and in the ectomycorrhizal ascomycete Cenococcum geophilum.

Besides this specific focus area of serpentine adaptation, I am also involved in a variety of projects that deal with population genetics, conservation genetics or phylogenetics of Coffea arabicaHeliotropium spp.,Campanula rotundifoliaAcacia dealbataArnica montana and other plant species.

In press

  • E. H. Maharramova, L. A. Muller, N. Korotkova and T. Borsch. Development of nuclear microsatellites for the Arcto-Tertiary tree Zelkova carpinifolia (Ulmaceae) using 454 pyrosequencing. Applications in Plant Sciences.
  • J. Wehner, J. Powell, L. A. H. Muller, T. Caruso, S. Veresoglou, S. Hempel and M. Rillig. Determinants of root-associated fungal communities within Asteraceae in a semiarid grassland. Journal of Ecology.


  • F. Luebert, P. Jacobs, H. H. Hilger, L. A. H. Muller. Evidence for nonallopatric speciation among closely related sympatric Heliotropium species in the Atacama Desert. Ecology and Evolution (2014) 4: 266-275.


  • E. C. Bourne, D. Mina, S. C. Gonçalves, J. Loureiro, H. Freitas and L. A. H. Muller. Large and variable genome size unrelated to serpentine adaptation but supportive of cryptic sexuality in Cenococcum geophilumMycorrhiza (2013) 24: 13-20.


  • E. Buscardo, S. Rodríguez-Echeverría, L. Barrico, M. Á. García, H. Freitas, M. P. Martín, P. De Angelis and L. A. H. Muller. Is the potential for the formation of common mycorrhizal networks influenced by fire frequency? Soil Biology & Biochemistry 46 (2012): 136-144.


  • L. A. H. Muller and J. H. McCusker. Nature and distribution of large sequence polymorphisms inSaccharomyces cerevisiaeFEMS Yeast Research 11 (2011): 587-594.
  • A. Esberg, L. A. H. Muller and J. H. McCusker. Genomic structure of and genome-wide recombination in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae S288C progenitor isolate EM93. PLoS ONE 6 (2011): e25211.
  • L. A. H. Muller, J. E. Lucas, D. R. Georgianna and J. H. McCusker. Genome-wide association analysis of clinical versus non-clinical origin provides insights into Saccharomyces cerevisiae pathogenesis.Molecular Ecology 20 (2011): 4085-4097.


  • L. A. H. Muller and J. H. McCusker. Microsatellite analysis of genetic diversity among clinical and nonclinical Saccharomyces cerevisiae isolates suggests heterozygote advantage in clinical environments. Molecular Ecology 13 (2009): 2779-2786.
  • L. A. H. Muller and J. H. McCusker. A multi-species based taxonomic microarray reveals interspecies hybridization and introgression in Saccharomyces cerevisiaeFEMS Yeast Research 9 (2009): 143-152.


  • L. A. H. Muller, J. Vangronsveld and J. V. Colpaert. Genetic structure of Suillus luteus populations in heavy metal polluted and nonpolluted habitats. Molecular Ecology 16 (2007): 4728-4737.
  • L. A. H. Muller, A. R. Craciun, J. Ruytinx, M. Lambaerts, N. Verbruggen, J. Vangronsveld and J. V. Colpaert. Gene expression profiling of a Zn-tolerant and a Zn-sensitive Suillus luteus isolate exposed to increased external zinc concentrations. Mycorrhiza 17 (2007): 571-580.


  • L. A. H. Muller, M. Lambaerts, J. Vangronsveld and J. V. Colpaert. Isolation and characterization of microsatellite loci from the ectomycorrhizal basidiomycete Suillus luteusMolecular Ecology Notes 6 (2006): 165-166.


  • J. V. Colpaert, K. Adriaensen, L. A. H. Muller, M. Lambaerts, C. Faes, R. Carleer and J. Vangronsveld. Element profiles and growth in Zn-sensitive and Zn-resistant Suilloid fungi. Mycorrhiza 15 (2005): 628-634.


  • L. A. H. Muller, M. Lambaerts, J. Vangronsveld and J. V. Colpaert. AFLP-based assessment of the effects of environmental heavy metal pollution on the genetic structure of pioneer populations of Suillus luteusNew Phytologist 164 (2004): 297-303.
  • J. V. Colpaert, L. A. H. Muller, M. Lambaerts, K. Adriaensen and J. Vangronsveld. Evolutionary adaptation to Zn toxicity in populations of Suilloid fungi. New Phytologist 162 (2004): 549-559.
Member of the DCPS