Hannes Schuler

Free University of Bozen-Bolzano


Microbes have crucial impacts on the ecology and evolution of their host and are therefore important factors in their biology. Our primary study system has been two Tephritid fruit flies in the genus Rhagoletis that have recently invaded or are quarantine pests in Europe. We characterize the endosymbionts for these two Rhagoletis species that attack walnuts and cherries and compare them with populations in their native ranges in the USA. We have also described endosymbionts in a third Rhagoletis species that is a pest of apples in the USA but has yet to reach Europe. Further, we study the importance of the parasitoid community in different Rhagoletis species as a source of vectoring endosymbionts.

Beside Rhagoletis, we are currently characterizing the microbial community of Cacopsylla species, important vectors of phytoplasmas. We study the tripartite interaction between the phytoplasma, the vector and its microbiome using a population genomic approach to adress the question what causes different phytoplasma transmission efficiencies in insect vectors using the Cacopsylla-phytoplasma pathosystem as a model. We are also performing phylogeographic as well as population genomic studies of spruce bark beetle species in Europe. Especially we investigate the associations of bark beetle populations with symbiontic bacteria and fungi to understand their role in the population dynamics of this important pest species.


PhD position available

We have a funded PhD position available! The project is in collaboration with Katrin Janik (Research Centre Laimburg) and Mirko Moser and Alessandro Cestaro (Fondazione Edmund Mach) and aims to study the interaction of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma vitis’ and its main insect vector Scaphoideus titanus through whole-genome sequencing.

All information can be found at https://www.unibz.it/en/faculties/sciencetechnology/phd-in-food-engineering-and-biotechnology/

For further informations, please let me know.


I am very excited to announce that I'm officially tenured at the Free University of Bolzano. Big thank you to my mentors and fantastic colleagues, team members and collaboration partners and to my family for your constant support during the last years!

Master's thesis defended

Maja Fluch successfully defended her Master thesis on Molecular genetic survey of parasitoids of the Brown marmorated stink bug Halyomorpha halys in South Tyrol co-supervized by Erika and Martina. Happy to announce that Maja will join us as a PhD student soon. Congratulations dottoressa Fluch!

Welcome to the new members of the group

Abd El-Hameed Moussa just joined our group as a new Postdoctoral Fellow. Moussa will be part of the Competence Centre for Plant Health and will study bacterial symbionts of bark beetles and leafhoppers.

Gul-I-Rayna-Shahzad joins our lab as Postdoc and will investigate the association of bark beetles and fungi in the Dolomites. This position is funded by Interreg V-A Italy-Austria 2014-2020 CLLD Dolomiti Live.

New Postdoc position

For our new DolomIps project we are looking for an enthusiastic candidate with a strong background in molecular biology and experience in bioinformatic analyses of bacterial and/or fungal communities associated with insects.

All documents for the application procedure can be found at: https://www.unibz.it/en/home/position-calls/positions-for-academic-staff/5264-allgemeine-und-angewandte-entomologie-dr-schuler?group=18

Paper accepted

Thomas' and Dan's paper on comparative genome sequencing of Wolbachia in cherry fruit flies was accepted for publication in Molecular Ecology in the special issue The use of whole-genome sequences in Molecular Ecology!

Welcome to the new members of the group

Liliya Serbina just joined our group as a new Postdoctoral Fellow. The next two years Liliya will study the microbiome of pear psyllids and its role in the transmission of phytoplasmas. This position is funded with the mobility grant by the Province of Bolzano. Welcome Liliya!

Maja Fluch joins the lab as Masterstudent to investigate the prasitoid community of the Brown marmorated stink bug Halyomorpha halys in South Tyrol. Maja's tesis will be co-advised with Martina Falagiarda from Research Centre Laimburg.


Thomas presented our work Revisiting Wolbachia diversity between invasive and native Rhagoletis cherry fruit flies in the light of comparative genomics at the 54th Population Genetics Group Meeting hosted by the University of Liverpool.

Special Issue of Insects

Michael Gerth and I are editing a special issue of the open access journal Insects (ISSN 2075-4450, IF 2.139) entitled "Insect Symbionts: Evolution and Application". We welcome submissions covering the whole spectrum of insect–symbiont interaction, such as occurrence and diversity of insect symbionts, symbiont-induced host evolution, symbiont evolution within insects, and the usage of symbionts to combat insect pests.

For more information on the issue, please visit the Special Issue website.

If you are interested to contribute please send us a short abstract or tentative title.

Dr. Hannes Schuler, Faculty of Science and Technology, Free University of Bozen-BolzanoUniversitätsplatz 5, I-39100 BozenTel: +39 0471 017648, e-mail: hannes.schuler@unibz.it