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Dr. Tobias Lortzing


Institute of Biology

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

Albrecht-Thaer-Weg 6
Raum 107
14195 Berlin


Plants defend themselves when they are attacked by insects. I study plant-insect interactions in a wild wine, the bittersweet nightshade Solanum dulcamara. As a chemical/molecular field-ecologist, I investigate the defense strategies of this plant on ecological, chemical and molecular scales. Very recently, we discovered a new form of extrafloral nectar that is secreted directly from the herbivore-inflicted wounds on the plant. This nectar attracts ants for indirect defense and may represent a first step in the evolution of nectaries. I also characterize the transcriptomic and metabolomic changes of the plant in response to herbivory and the phytohormonal regulation of the plant‘s inducible defenses under various biotic and abiotic stress conditions.

Current projects

Induced plant defences in Solanum dulcamara


Teaching activities

Practical couses and seminars in basic ecology and advanced practical courses in plant-defence ecology.


Drok, S., Bandoly, M., Stelzer, S., Lortzing, T. & Steppuhn, A. (2018) Moth oviposition shapes the species-specific transcriptional and phytohormonal response of Nicotiana attenuata to larval feeding. Scientific Reports 8, 10249

Geuss D., Lortzing L., Schwachtje, J., Kopka J., Steppuhn A. (2018) Oviposition by Spodoptera exigua on Solanum dulcamara alters the plant's response to herbivory and impairs larval performance. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 19(12):

Lortzing V., Oberlaender J., Lortzing T; Toghe T.; Steppuhn A., Kunze R., Hilker M. (2018) Insect egg deposition renders plant defense against hatching larvae more effective in a salicylic acid dependent manner. Plant, Cell & Environment. doi:10.1111/pce.13447

Nguyen, D., Poeschl, Y., Lortzing, T., Hoogveld, R. Gogol-Döring, A., Cristescu, S., Steppuhn, A., Mariani, C., Rieu, I., van Dam, N. (2018) Interactive responses of Solanum dulcamara to drought and insect feeding are herbivore species-specific. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 19(12): 3845

Hedtmann, C., Guo, W., Reifschneider, E., Heiber, I., Hiltscher, H., van Buer, J., Barsch, A., Niehaus, K., Rowan, B., Lortzing, T., Steppuhn, A. and Baier, M. (2017) The Plant Immunity Regulating F-Box Protein CPR1 Supports Plastid Function in Absence of Pathogens. Frontiers in Plant Science doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.01650

Geuss D. Stelzer S., Lortzing T. Steppuhn A. (2017) An ovicidal response of Solanum dulcamara to insect oviposition. Plant, Cell & Environment. doi: 10.1111/pce.13015

Lortzing, T., Firtzlaff, V., Nguyen, D., Rieu, I., Stelzer, S., Schad, M., Kallarackal, J., Steppuhn A., (2017) Transcriptomic responses of Solanum dulcamara to natural and simulated herbivory. Molecular Ecology Resources. DOI: 10.1111/1755-0998.12687

Kafle, D., Hänel, A., Lortzing, T. Steppuhn, A. and Wurst, S. (2017) Sequential above- and belowground herbivory modifies plant responses depending on herbivore identity. BMC Ecology. 17:5

Lortzing, T., Calf, O.W., Böhlke, M., Schwachtje, J., Kopka, J., Geuss D., Kosanke, S. van Dam, N.M. and Steppuhn, A. (2016) Plant-bleeding for defence: Extrafloral nectar secretion from wounds of Solanum dulcamaraNature Plants. 2(5): 16056 

Lortzing, T. and Steppuhn, A. (2016) Jasmonate signalling in plants shapes plant-insect interaction ecology. Current Opinion in Insect Science. 14: 32–39.

Nguyen, DD'Agostino, NTytgat, TOSun, PLortzing, TVisser, EJCristescu, SMSteppuhn, AMariani, Cvan Dam, NM, and Rieu, I (2016)Drought and flooding have distinct effects on herbivore-induced responses and resistance in Solanum dulcamara. Plant, Cell & Environmentdoi: 10.1111/pce.12708.

CRC 973
Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences (DCPS)