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Graduate students:

Dipl. Biol. Tjard Bergmann: 8427

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MSc Wiebke Feindt: 8402

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MSc Hans-Jürgen Osigus: 8893

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Ronja Kraul

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Lab Technicians:

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Former ITZ:    

Dr. Omid Paknia 


Dr. Sandra Damm

Dr. Michael Eitel




Prof Dr. Bernd Schierwater


Personal data

Date and place of birth: June 28th, 1963, Uelzen (Germany)
Nationality: German
Family status: Married, one daughter



I was trained in Zoology by Carl Hauenschild and in Biochemistry by Fritz Wagner (both Technical University Braunschweig, Germany), in marine biology by Peter Frank (Woods Hole), in evolutionary theory by Leo Buss (Yale University, postdoctoral advisor), and in molecular and developmental genetics by Stephen Dellaporta and Frank Ruddle (Yale University, postdoctoral and research associate advisor). My training in evolutionary, genetics, ecological genetics and systematics has arisen from running laboratories at Frankfurt University (Ass. Professor), Freiberg University (Assoc. Professor) and Hannover TiHo University (Full Professor) and from working as a Research Associate in the lab of Rob DeSalle (AMNH, New York). Taking advantage of my multi-disciplinary education I have developed the most primitive metazoan animals, the Placozoa, into an emerging model system for different areas of biological research. For example, the formally monophyletic –but indeed  taxon-rich - phylum Placozoa represents a perfect tabula rasa systematics and provides completely unique opportunities for testing our existing tool kits in animal systematics. 

Education/Academic Positions

09/28 1979  B.Sc. Biology Technical University Braunschweig (TUB, Germany)
04/29 1983 B.A. Psychology   TUB
04/28 1984 M.Sc. Biology  TUB (special honors degree’summa cum laude’)
SS 1987 Marine Ecology' Woods Hole, USA
04/28 1989 Ph.D. TUB (special honors degree’summa cum laude’)
06/06 1994 Habiliation Frankfurt University (Venia legendi for zoology)
5/89 - 3/92 Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Biology, Yale University, New Haven, USA
4/92 - 5/94 Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Biology, Univ. of Frankfurt, Germany
6/94 – 9/98 Associate Professor (non-tenure) in the Department of Biology, Frankfurt University, Germany
10/98 - 10/99  Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolution, Freiberg University, Germany
since 01/93 Research Associate Yale University, Dept. of Mol. Cell. Devel. Biology
since 05/94 Research Affiliate at the Am. Museum of Natural History, New York
since 10/99 Professor of Zoology, TiHo Hannover, Germany


 Current Projects:

1. Phylogenetic Position and Systematic Exposition of the Placozoa
2. Placozoan Biodiversity
3. Placozoan Morphology and Development
4. Placozoan functional genomics
5. Placozoan genotyping

Selected Publications: 

Schierwater B, Streit B, Wagner GP, DeSalle R, eds. (1994) Molecular Ecology and Evolution: Approaches and Applications. Birkhäuser, Basel-Boston, 622 pp.
DeSalle R, Schierwater B, eds. (1998) Molecular Approaches to Ecology and Evolution. Birkhäuser, Basel-Boston, 364 pp.
DeSalle R, Schierwater B, eds. (2011) Key Transitions in Animal Evolution. Science Publishers & CRC Press, Enfield, 434 pp. 
Schierwater B, DeSalle R, Stadler PF, Podsialowski, L, eds. (2012) Mitochondrial Genomes and Animal Evolution. Special volume Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. Academic Press, San Diego (in press).

Selected Articles:
Schierwater B, Klingel H (1985) Food digestibility and water requirements in the djungarian hamster Phodopus sungorus. Z Säugetierkd 50: 35-39.
Schierwater B, Klingel H (1986) Energy costs of reproduction in the djungarian hamster Phodopus sungorus under laboratory and seminatural conditions. Oecologia 69: 144-147.
Schierwater B, Mrowka W (1987) Factors influencing oxygen consumption in the cichlid fish Pseudocrenilabrus multicolor. Zool Anz 219: 305-312.
Mrowka W, Schierwater B (1988) Energy expenditure for mouthbrooding in a cichlid fish. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 22: 161-164.
Schierwater B (1989) Allometric changes during growth and reproduction in Eleutheria dichotoma (Hydrozoa, Athecata) and the problem of estimating body size in a microscopic animal. J Morphol 200: 255-267.
Schierwater B, Hauenschild C (1990) A photoperiod determined life-cycle in an oligochaete worm. Biol Bull 178: 111-117.
Schierwater B, Hauenschild C (1990) The position and consequences of a vegetative mode of reproduction in the life-cycle of a hydromedusa and an oligochaete worm. Adv Inv Reprod 5: 37-42.
Hadrys H, Schierwater B, Mrowka W (1990) The feeding behaviour of a semi-sessile hydromedusa and how it is affected by the mode of reproduction. Anim Behav 40: 935-944.
Schierwater B, Murtha M, Dick M, Ruddle FH, Buss LW (1991) Homeoboxes in Cnidarians. J Exp Zool 260: 413-416.
Schierwater B, Piekos B, Buss LW (1992) Hydroid stolonal contractions mediated by contractile vacuoles. J Exp Biol 162: 1-21.
Hadrys H, Balick M, Schierwater B (1992) Applications of random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) in molecular ecology. Mol Ecol 1: 55-63.
Bridge D, Cunningham CW, Schierwater B, DeSalle R, Buss LW (1992) Class-level relationships in the phylum Cnidaria: Evidence from mitochondrial genome structure. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 89: 8750-8753.
Hadrys H, Schierwater B, DeSalle R, Dellaporta S, Buss LW (1993) Determination of paternities in dragonflies by Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA fingerprinting. Mol Ecol 2: 79-87.
Schierwater B, Ender A (1993) Different thermostable DNA polymerases may amplify different amplification patterns. Nucl Acids Res 21: 4647-4648.
Streit B, Städler T, Schwenk K, Ender A, Kuhn K, Schierwater B (1994) Natural hybridization in freshwater animals. Ecological implications and molecular tools. Naturwissenschaften 81: 65-73.
Schroth W, Schierwater B, Joger J, Streit B (1995) Populationsgenetische Untersuchungen an Mittelmeerkolonien der Unechten Karettschildkröte Caretta caretta. Verh Ges Oekol 24: 151-154.
Schierwater B (1995) Arbitrarily amplified DNA in systematics an phylogenetics. Electrophoresis 16: 1643-1647.
Schierwater B (1995) Developmental genes as a potential tool to population ecology of complex animal life-cycles? Experientia 51: 539-544.
Ender A, Streit B, Städler T, Schwenk K, Schierwater B (1996) RAPD identification of microsatellites in Daphnia. Mol Ecol 5: 437-441.
Kuhn K, Streit B, Schierwater B (1996) Homeobox genes in the cnidarian Eleutheria dichotoma: Evolutionary implications for the origin of Antp-class (HOM/Hox) genes. Mol Phylogenet Evol 6: 30-38.
Schierwater B, Metzler D, Krüger K, Streit B (1996) The effects of nested primer binding sites on the reproducibility of PCR: Mathematical modeling and computer simulation studies. J Comput Biol 2: 235-251.
Schroth W, Streit B, Schierwater B (1996) Evolutionary handicap for sea turtles. Nature 384: 521-522.
Prinzinger R, Becker P, Klein JP, Schroth W, Schierwater B (1997) The taxonomic status of Laniarius dubiosus (Rchw. 1899) with additional data on type description of Laniarius liberatus, Bulo Burti Boubou (Smith, Arctander, Fjeldsa & Amir 1991). J Ornithol 138: 283-289.
Prinzinger R, Schroth W, Klein JP, Schierwater B (1997) DNA sequence analysis of mitochondrial Cyt-b and the species status of Lanarius dubiosus (Rchw. 1899). J Ornithol 138: 291-296.
Ender A, Streit B, Schierwater B (1997) Random amplified microsatellites (RAMS) in Daphnia. Dt Ges Limnol Tagsber 149-152.
Schierwater B, Kuhn K (1998) Homology of Hox genes and the zootype concept in early metazoan evolution. Mol Phylogenet Evol 9: 375-381.
Schroth W, Streit B, Schierwater B (1998) 'Natal Homing' bei der Meeresschildkröte Caretta caretta: RAPD- und mtDNA-Analyse. Dt Ges Limnol Tgsber 193-196.
Schierwater B, Hadrys H (1998) Environmental factors and metagenesis in the hydroid Eleutheria dichotoma. Invertebr Reprod Dev 34: 139-148.
Laurent L, Casale P, Bradai MN, Godley BJ, Gerosa G, Broderick C, Schroth W, Schierwater B, Levy AM, Freggi D, Abd El-Mawla NEM, Hadoud DA, Gomati HE, Domingo M, Hadjichristophorou M, Kornaraky L, Dmirayak F, Gautier Ch (1998) Molecular resolution of marine turtle stock composition in fishery bycatch: a case study in the Mediterranean. Mol Ecol 7: 1529-1542.
Mokady O, Dick M, Laschkewitz D, Schierwater B, Buss LW (1998) Over one-half billion years of head conservation? Expression of an ems class gene in Hydractinia symbiolongicarpus (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 95: 3673-3678.
Kuhn K, Streit B, Schierwater B (1999) Isolation of Hox genes from the Scyphozoan Cassiopeia xamachana: Implications for the early evolution of Hox genes. J Exp Zool, Mol Dev Evol 285: 63-75.
Schierwater B, Ender A (2000) Sarsia marii spec. nov. (Hydrozoa, Anthomedusae) and the use of 16S rDNA sequences for unpuzzling systematic relationships in Hydrozoa. Sci Mar 64: 117-122.
Schierwater B, DeSalle R (2001) Current Problems With the Zootype and the Early Evolution of Hox Genes. J Exp Zool, Mol Dev Evol 291: 169-174.
Syed T, Schierwater B (2002) The Evolution of the Placozoa: A new morphological model. Senckenb Lethaea 82: 315-324.
Schroth W, Jarms G, Streit B, Schierwater B (2002) Speciation and phylogeography in the cosmopolitic marine moon jelly, Aurelia sp. BMC Evol Biol 2: 1-10.
Schierwater B, Dellaporta S, DeSalle R (2002) Is the evolution of Cnox-2 Hox/ParaHox genes multicolored and polygenealogical? Mol Phylogenet Evol 24: 374-378.
Sarkar IN, Thornton JW, Planet PJ, Figurski DH, Schierwater B, DeSalle R (2002) An automated phylogenetic key for classifying homeoboxes. Mol Phylogenet Evol 24: 388-399.
Syed T, Schierwater B (2002) Trichoplax adhaerens: discovered as a missing link, forgotten as a hydrozoan, re-discovered as a key to metazoan evolution. Vie Milieu 52: 177-187.
Collins AG, Meina M, Collins JA, Schierwater B (2003) 28S rDNA data further resolve the phylogeny of Cnidaria. Integ Comp Biol 43: 804
Ender A, Schierwater B (2003) Placozoa are not derived cnidarians: Evidence from molecular morphology. Mol Biol Evol 20: 130-134.
Jakob W, Sagasser S, Dellaporta SL, Holland PW, Kuhn K, Schierwater B (2004) The Trox-2 Hox/ParaHox gene of Trichoplax (Placozoa) marks an epithelial boundary. Dev Genes Evol 214: 170-175.
Voigt O, Collins AG, Pearse VB, Pearse JS, Hadrys H, Ender A, Schierwater B (2004) Placozoa: no longer a phylum of one. Curr Biol 14: R1-R3, R944-R945.
Moeller A, Sagasser S, Wiltschko W, Schierwater B (2004) Retinal cryptochrome in a migratory passerine bird: a possible transducer for the avian magnetic compass. Naturwissenschaften 91: 585-588.
Collins AG, Winkelmann S, Hadrys H, Schierwater B (2005) Phylogeny of Capitata (Cnidaria, Hydrozoa) and Corynidae in light of mitochondrial 16S rDNA data. Zool Scr 34: 91-99.
Hadrys T, DeSalle R, Sagasser S, Fischer N, Schierwater B (2005) The trichoplax PaxB gene: a putative proto-PaxA/B/C gene predating the origin of nerve and sensory cells. Mol Biol Evol 22: 1569-1578.
Tomassetti P, Voigt O, Collins AG, Porrello S, Pearse VB, Schierwater B (2005) Placozoans (Trichoplax adhaerens Schulze 1883) in the Mediterranean sea. Meiofauna Marina. 14: 5-7.
Schroth W, Ender A, Schierwater B (2005) Molecular biomarkers and adaptation to environmental stress in the moon jelly (Aurelia spp.). Mar Biotechnol 7: 449-461.
Collins AG, Cartwright P, McFadden CS, Schierwater B (2005) Phylogenetic Context and Basal Metazoan Model Systems. Integr Comp Biol 45: 585-594.
Stoletzki N, Schierwater B (2005) Genetic and color morph differentiation in the Caribbean sea anemone Condylactis gigantea. Mar Biol 147: 747-754.
Schierwater B (2005) My favorite animal, Trichoplax adhaerens. BioEssays 27: 1294-1302.
Hadrys H, Schroth W, Streit B, Schierwater B, Fincke O (2005) Tree hole odonates as environmental monitors: Non-invasive isolation of polymorphic microsatellites from the neotropical damselfly Megaloprepus caerulatus. Cons Gen 6(3): 481 - 483
Collins A, Bentlage B, Matsumoto G, Haddock S, Osborn K, Schierwater B (2006) Solution to the phylogenetic enigma of Tetraplatia, a worm-shaped cnidarian. Biol Lett 2: 120-124.
Collins AG, Schuchert P, Marques AC, Jankowski T, Medina M, Schierwater B (2006) Medusozoan phylogeny and character evolution clarified by new large and small subunit rDNA data and an assessment of the utility of phylogenetic mixture models. Syst Biol 55: 97-115.
Monteiro AS, Schierwater B, Dellaporta S, Holland PWH (2006) A low diversity of ANTP class homeobox genes in Placozoa. Evol Dev 8:174-182.
Cartwright P, Schierwater B, Buss LW (2006) Expression of a Gsx parahox gene, Cnox-2, in colony ontogeny in Hydractinia (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa). J Exp Zool, Mol Dev Evol 306B: 460-469 (DOI: 10.1002/jez.b.21106).
Kamm K, Schierwater B, Jakob W, Miller D (2006) Axial patterning and diversification in the Cnidaria predate the Hox system. Curr Biol 16: 920-926.
Dellaporta SL, Xu A, Sagasser S, Jakob W, Moreno MA, Buss LW, Schierwater B (2006) Mitochondrial genome of Trichoplax adhaerens supports Placozoa as the basal lower metazoan phylum. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103: 8751–8756.
Kamm K, Schierwater, B (2006) Ancient complexity of the Non-Hox ANTP Gene Complement in the Anthozoan Nematostella vectensis. Implications for the Evolution of the ANTP Superclass. J Exp Zool, Mol Dev Evol 306B: 589– 596.
Schierwater B, DeSalle R (2007) Can we ever identify the Urmetazoan? Integr Comp Biol 47: 670-676.
Boero F, Schierwater B, Piraino S (2007) Cnidarian milestones in metazoan evolution. Integr Comp Biol 47: 693-700.
Ball EE, de Jong DM, Schierwater B, Shinzato C, Hayward DC, Miller DJ (2007) Implications of cnidarian gene expression patterns for the origins of bilaterality-is the glass half full or half empty? Integr Comp Biol 47: 701-711.
Jakob W, Schierwater B (2007) Changing hydrozoan bauplans by silencing Hox-like genes. PlosOne 8: e694.
Kamm K, Schierwater B (2007) Ancient linkage of a POU class 6 and an anterior Hox-like Gene in cnidaria: implications for the evolution of homeobox genes. J Exp Zool, Mol Dev Evol 308B: 777-784.
Rach J, DeSalle R, Sarkar IN, Schierwater B, Hadrys H (2008) Character-based DNA barcoding allows discrimination of genera, species and populations in Odonata. Proc R Soc London B 275: 237-247.
Srivastava M, Begovic E, Chapman J, Putnam N, Hellsten U, Kawashima T, Kuo A, Mitros T, Carpenter M, Signorovich A, Moreno M, Kamm K, Shapiro H, Grigoriev I, Buss L, Schierwater B, Dellaporta S, Rokhsar D (2008) The Trichoplax Genome and the Enigmatic Nature of Placozoans. Nature 454: 955-960.
Schierwater B, Kamm K, Srivastava M, Rokhsar D, Rosengarten RD, Dellaporta SL (2008) The Early ANTP Gene Repertoire: Insights from the Placozoan Genome. PLoS ONE 3: e2457.
DeSalle R, Schierwater B (2008) An even “newer” animal phylogeny. BioEssays 30: 1043-1047.
Schierwater B, de Jong D, DeSalle R (2009) Placozoa, and the evolution of Metazoa and intrasomatic cell differentiation. Int J Biochem Cell Biol 41: 370–379 (doi:10.1016/j.biocel.2008.09.023).
Hertel J, de Jong D, Marz M, Rose D, Tafer H, Tanzer A, Schierwater B, Stadler PF (2009) Non-coding RNA annotation of the genome of Trichoplax adhaerens. Nucl Acids Res 37: 1602-1615.
Schierwater B, Eitel M, Jakob W, Osigus HJ, Hadrys H, Dellaporta S, Kolokotronis SO,  DeSalle R (2009) Concatenated Molecular and Morphological Analysis Sheds Light on Early Metazoan Evolution and Fuels a Modern “Urmetazoon” Hypothesis. PlosBiology 7: 36-44: e1000020.
de Jong D, Eitel M, Jakob W, Osigus H.-J, Hadrys H, DeSalle R, Schierwater B (2009) Multiple Dicer genes in the early diverging Metazoa. Mol Biol Evol 26:1333–1340.
Schierwater B, Kolokotronis SO, Eitel M, DeSalle R (2009) The Diploblast-Bilateria Sister Hypothesis: Parallel Evolution of a Nervous System may have been a simple Step. Commun & Integr Biol 2:1-3.
Bergmann T, Hadrys H, Breves G, Schierwater B (2009) Character-based DNA barcoding - A superior tool for species classification. Berliner und Münchener Tierärztliche Wochenschrift - BMTW 122:446-450.
Simon S, Schierwater B, Hadrys H (2010) On the value of Elongation factor-1α for reconstructing pterygote insect phylogeny. Mol Phylogenet Evol 54:651-656.
Vargas S, Eitel M, Breedy O, Schierwater B (2010) Molecules match morphology: mitochondrial DNA supports Bayer’s Lytreia–Bebryce–Heterogorgia (Alcyonacea : Octocorallia) clade hypothesis. Invertebrate Systematics 24: 23–31.
Eitel M, Schierwater B (2010) The phylogeography of the Placozoa suggests a taxon rich phylum in tropical and subtropical waters. Mol Ecol 19: 2315–2327.
Schierwater B, Kamm K (2010) The early evolution of Hox genes: A battle of belief? Adv Exp Med Biol 689: 81-90.
Damm S, Schierwater B, Hadrys H (2010) An integrative approach to species discovery in odonates: from character-based DNA barcoding to ecology. Mol Ecol 19: 3881-3893.
von der Chevallerie K, Eitel M, Schierwater B (2010) Focus on an unexpected discovery in Roscoff - a warm water species of the phylum Placozoa. Cah Biol Mar 51: 212-213.
Guidi L, Eitel M, Schierwater B, Ceasrini S, Balsamo M (2011) Ultrastructural analyses support different Morphological Lineages in the Phylum Placozoa Grell, 1971. J Morphol 272: 371–378
Loenarz C, Coleman ML, Boleininger A, Schierwater B, Holland PW, Ratcliffe PJ, Schofield CJ (2011) The hypoxia-inducible transcription factor pathway regulates oxygen sensing in the simplest animal, Trichoplax adhaerens. EMBO Rep 12: 63-70.
Eitel M, Guidi L, Balsamo M, Schierwater B (2011) New insights into placozoan sexual reproduction and development. PLoS One 6(5): e19639
Hadrys H, Simon S, Kaune B, Khadjeh S, Schmitt O, Schöner A, Jakob W, Schierwater B (2012) Isolation of Hox cluster genes from insects reveals an accelerated sequence evolution rate. PLoS One 7(6): e34682
Osigus, H-J, Eitel, M, Schierwater B (2012) Chasing the urmetazoon: Striking a blow for quality data? Mol Phyl Evol (Morris Goodman Special issue)
Vij S, Ho HK, Babu D, Eitel M, Westbrook J, Schierwater B, Roy S (2012) Evolutionarily ancient association of Foxj1 transcription factors with the motile ciliogenic program. PLoS Genetics 8(11): e1003019
Appeltrans W (2012) The Magnitude of Global Marine Species Diversity. Current Biology 22 (23): 2189-2202
Bernt M, Braband A, Schierwater B, Stadler PF (2013) Genetic aspects of mitochondrial genome evolution. Mol Phyl Evol 69(2): 328-338;
Ringrose JH, van den Toorn H, Eitel M, Neerincx P, Schierwater B, Altelaar AFM, Heck AJR (2013) Deep proteome profiling of Trichoplax adhaerens reveals remarkable features at the origin of metazoan multicellularity. Nature Comm; 4:1408 | DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2424
Eitel M, Osigus H-J, DeSalle R, Schierwater B (2013) Global Diversity of the Placozoa. PLoS One 8(4): e57131
Nosenko T, Schreiber F, Adamska M, Adamski M, Eitel M, Hammel J, Maldonadof M, Müller WEG, Nickel M, Schierwater B, Vaceleti J, Wiens M, Wörheide G (2013) Deep metazoan phylogeny: When different genes tell different stories. Mol Phyl Evol 67: 223–233
Schierwater B, Stadler P, DeSalle R, Podsiadlowski L (2013) Mitogenomics and metazoan evolution. Mol Phyl Evol 69: 311-312
Osigius H-J, Eitel M, Bernt M, Donath A, Schierwater B (2013) Mitogenomics at the base of Metazoa. Mol Phyl Evol 69: 339-351
Bernt M, Bleidorn C, Braband A, Dambach J, Donath A, Fritzsch G, Golombek A, Hadrys H, Jühling F, Meusemann K, Middendorf M, Misof B, Perseke M, Podsiadlowski L, von Reumont B, Schierwater B, Schlegel M, Schrödl M, Simon S, Stadler P, Stöger I, Struck T (2013) A comprehensive analysis of bilaterian mitochondrial genomes and phylogeny. Mol Phyl Evol 69(2): 352–364; DOI:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.05.002
Bergmann T, Rach J, Damm S, deSalle R, Schierwater B, Hadrys H (2013) The potential of distance-based thresholds and character-based DNA barcoding for defininig problematic taxonomic entities by CO1 and ND1. Molecular Ecology Resources; DOI: 10.1111/1755-0998.12125
V.d. Chevallerie K, Rolfes S, Schierwater B (2014) Inhibitors of the p53-Mdm2 interaction increase programmed cell death and produce abnormal phenotypes in the placozoon Trichoplax adhaerens (F.E. Schulze). Dev Gen Evol, DOI 10.1007/s00427-014-0465-0
Paknia O & Schierwater B (2015) Global habitat suitability and ecological niche separation in the phylum Placozoa PLoS ONE (in press)

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