New paper out!

Different aphid species conform to different niches by feeding on distinct plant parts. At the same time, infestation by aphids can change the chemical composition and nutritional value of phloem sap affecting aphid performance. But how does infestation by different aphid species affect the phloem sap composition of different plant individuals and distinct plant parts and how does this affect aphid performance? NC³ PI Caroline Müller and colleagues studied these interactions using the common tansy Tanacetum vulgare and its specialized aphid species Macrosiphoniella tanacetaria and Uroleucon tanaceti as a study system. They found that the different aphid species perform differently well on distinct plant parts (differences in niche conformance) and that aphid infestation leads to distinct changes in metabolite classes within the phloem sap in different plant parts. These results show that plant responses are highly specific for plant part, metabolite classes in the phloem sap, and aphid species. Therefore, these results may provide an indication of niche construction by aphids through optimizing the food quality of the plant parts they preferentially feed on.

Caroline and her team published their study in New Phytologist: Jakobs, R., Schweiger, R. and Müller C. (2018), Aphid infestation leads to plant-specific changes in phloem sap chemistry, which may indicate niche construction. New Phytol. doi:10.1111/nph.15335.

Press relase of Bielefeld University in English and German


New book out!

Norbert Sachser has published his popular science book, Der Mensch im Tier (The Human Animal). It paints a vivid picture of our current understanding of animal personality and emotions, combining insights from physiology, neurobiology and behavior. Importantly, the book also offers a window into the hypothesis-driven, model-based approach of modern science.

Looking beyond well beyond the ivory tower of research, Norbert Sachser also discusses how recent developments will shape our relationship with and treatment of animals.

English book summary

Interview at University of Münster (German)

Interview at the Publisher (German)


Kick-Off Meeting


Welcome to NC³! We are delighted to have met so many of our new members on Wednesday. We trust you all enjoyed the lively chats over tea and dinner and are looking forward to four years of shared curiosity, inspiring discussions and exciting insights. Thank all of you for your contributions so far to get NC³ going!

Special thanks go to our colleagues Fritz Trillmich, Franjo Weissing and Julia Fischer who started off our meeting with their entertaining insights into closely related fields of research. We hope they continue to accompany us on this journey.