Susana Coelho (Director)

While struggling through the tangles of seaweeds clinging to your legs when bathing in Atlantic waters, you may find it hard to understand my passion for these fascinating organisms. I have worked with algae since my PhD. I am interested in almost anything related to their biology, but most particularly the evolution and mechanisms underlying their complex life cycles, multicellular development and reproduction

Heike Heth (Assistant)

I assist Susana and the department with administrative matters, travel arrangements and any type of red tape we have to cope with.



Group Leaders

Michael Borg

I am interested in all things chromatin, epigenetics and transcriptional regulation in context of development. I have a strong background in plant sexual reproduction and for years I focused on pollen biology, germline reprogramming and the alternation of generations in Arabidopsis. I have moved to Tübingen to start my own research group in the Department, where I will build on my research interests and expand into the wonderful and unexplored world of red algae, the cooler relatives of green algae and plants in the Plant kingdom. In my spare time I enjoy powerlifting, collecting vinyl and recording mix tapes of deep  house, techno and ambient music.

Agnieszka (Aga) Lipinska

My research interests include the areas of speciation and reproductive
biology, in particular the evolution of sex chromosomes, sexual
dimorphism, sex-biased gene expression and reproductive isolation using
brown and red algae as model organisms. 

Postdoctoral fellows


Fabian Haas (Head of Bioinformatics)

As head of bioinformatics, I’m supporting the lab members in all bioinformatic related fields. This comprises, among other things, analyzing experiments, developing technical strategies, and maintaining our lab internal infrastructure.

Elena Avdievich

I am interested in understanding the genetic basis of sex determination and differentiation in the brown algae, using Ectocarpus as a model organism. Currently, I am focused on the role of a HMG-domain protein, the major candidate for male sex determination, and on HMG interaction partners

Josué Barrera Redondo (Humboldt Research Fellowship)

The emergence of novel genomic elements and their integration into biologically meaningful processes (the so called “functions” in Biology) represent two fundamental topics in Evolutionary Biology. Brown algae are eukaryotes that independently evolved complex life cycles and multicellularity, and whose genomes contain around one fourth of genes without any traceable homologs in other organisms. I’m interested in analyzing the evolutionary dynamics behind the emergence of new genes in the brown algae, test whether the emergence of these genes is associated with key evolutionary novelties and understand how these genes are integrated into complex biological processes such as the life cycle.

Masakzu Hoshino (Guest Scientist)

I am interested in taxonomy of seaweeds, evolution of brown algal parthenogens, and gamete recognition system of brown algae.

Daniel Liesner

In my postdoc project, I am researching sexual transitions in brown algae. The group I am most interested in are large brown algae commonly called kelp (Laminariales), which form the base of highly diverse and productive ecosystems known as marine forests. In this group, sex is determined in the microscopic, haploid gametophyte stage. Switches of phenotypic sex can be induced by mutagenesis in the lab, and rare occasions of sexual transitions have been observed in wild kelp. I am working with lab-induced variant isolates of the giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera as well as material collected from natural populations along the distributional range of the split-fan kelp Laminaria pallida. By combining phenotypic characterization, next-generation sequencing and population genetics, I aim to identify the genetic causes, mechanisms and evolutionary forces driving switches in sexual systems of kelp.

Claudia dos Santos Martinho

I am a molecular biologist specialized in plant epigenetics and RNA silencing.
In the Department of Algal Development and Evolution I am studying how brown algae repress gene expression using small molecules of RNA (sRNAs). By studying sRNAs in brown algae we hope to increase our understanding about the evo.lution of multicellularity in Eukaryotes.
In addition, I am very curious about RNA-silencing as a defense mechanism against pathogens in marine environments.

Cécile Molinier

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Graduate Students

Erica Dinatale

Transposable Elements (TEs) and Long Non-Coding RNAs (lncRNAs) play a role in genome regulation, among the tree of life: they are involved in host trait variation, genome size and composition, development, phenotypic diversity. Very little is known about it in Brown Algae: I am interested in study the effects of young transposable elements and lncRNAs on developmental regulation and during the establishment of multicellularity. I am graduated in Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Milan and I was looking forward to continue studying how the regulatory control of genomes evolves, after my studies: I found in the Department of Algal Development & Evolution the right place in doing so.

Julia Golebiowska

I am interested in diverse eukaryotic organisms from a broad perspective. 
From meta-omics and evolutionary approach during my master's to exploring development during my PhD studies.
Now, I am mainly interested in Rhydophyceae, which contributed to the evolution by deriving a chloroplast to various eukaryotic groups.
In red algae emerged the unique triphasic life cycle with one haploid and two diploid stages. 
My project is to understand how RNA expression corresponds to these stages by example of Bostrychia moritziana.
I am also a bioinformatician by training and I am going to use my experience for RNA-seq data analysis.


Pengfei Liu

My PhD study aims to gain insights into the evolution and fate of sex chromosomes during the evolution of brown algae. Focusing in understanding how sex chromosomes are organized in the three-dimensional (3D) nucleus in species with separate sexes and the fate of sex-chromosome genomic architecture during transitions to epigenetic sex determination.

Jaruwatana (Sodai) Lotharukpong

I am interested in the origin and evolution of development. The brown algae are an ideal model for this question since they evolved complex multicellularity independently of other lineages such as plants and animals. Specifically, I am investigating how the evolutionary age of the transcriptome changes between cell types and during development in over dozens of brown algal species. Ultimately, I want to uncover how major transitions in multicellular life stages are regulated and whether there are common patterns to these transitions across the tree of life.  In terms of studies, I did my undergrad at Imperial College London and my masters at Cambridge. Outside of research, I like baking, hiking, bouldering and eating spätzle.


Romy Petroll

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Jérômine Vigneau

While the epigenetic landscape has been well studied in many animals and plants, to date little is known about this process in brown algae. I intend to map chromatin profiles and identify putative cis-regulatory elements at different stages and in different species of brown algae. Together, these data will allow us to apprehend the transition from a sexual to an asexual individual, and will provide an overview of chromatin dynamics in the brown algal group, allowing us to better understand the evolutionary process.

Research Assistants


Minori Harada

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Rémy Luthringer

"From field to culture”, my work aim to provide best biological material to help understand algae biology. I run the algal culture facility of the group, and I apply and develop new protocols for algae growth and reproduction.

Morgane Raphalen

I am in charge of the CRISPR/Cas9 screening in the lab using biolistic and microinjection. I also help in the overall lab organisation.

Min Zheng

I am building a Seaweed Expression Atlas, with the help of several members of the lab experts in different algal species

Technical Assistants

Agnes Henschen (Laboratory Coordinator)

In 2009 I started working as a technician at the Max Planck Institute for Biology Tübingen. In 2020, I joined Susana Coelho's new department. Besides making sure the lab is running smoothly, I am involved in various scientific projects.

Andrea Belkacemi

My work as technical assistant in the group focuses on DNA-extractions. I have several organization tasks that help the department run smoothly.

Dorothee Koch

I am an "algae care taker". My work is to ensure that the algae are healthy to guarantee good material for the research.


Viktoriia Bukhanets

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