Jan Michel Meyer, PhD Student

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Jan Michel Meyer, PhD Student

Hometown: Bremen, Germany

Affiliation: Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Department for Integrative Evolutionary Biology

What are you working on?
On our Planet we can find an astonishing diversity of different life forms in all shapes and sizes. But how is this diversity generated and how does novelty arise? In our lab we use an interdisciplinary approach to answer these questions. We study the model organism Pristionchus pacificus, a free-living nematode which we can manipulate in the laboratory, but we are also able to study it in its natural habitat.
Pristionchus nematodes have been shown to be associated with beetles. During numerous sampling trips we discovered our evolutionary model system La Réunion Island, which harbors a remarkable diversity of Pristionchus pacificus nematodes.
These nematodes are able to communicate using pheromones, which play important roles in mating and in developmental decisions. My project aims to study natural variation of these pheromones in the La Réunion context. Further, I am interested in the elucidation of pheromone production.

Why is it interesting?
Even simple animals such as nematodes are capable of the production and recognition of a broad variety of complex pheromones. These structures are so complex and specific that skilled chemists would need months to synthesize them. Nematodes use these molecules like a language to communicate with each other. The identification and characterisation of these molecules has helped us to identify new molecules with antibiotic potential.

What do you like most about being a scientist/researcher?
Being surrounded by a lot of inspiring people from all over the world and working together on really interesting topics to discover novel things..

Your favourite spot in Tübingen is?
Sitting in the sun on the wall next to Neckarbrücke and talking to friends.

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