Katharina Weiss


Department for Zoology

University of Regensburg

93040 Regensburg


Phone: +49-941-943-3057

Fax: +49-941-943-3325

Email: Katharina1.Weiss[at]biologie.uni-regensburg.de



Current research

Sexual selection has a high potential for inducing rapid evolutionary changes and promoting speciation, as compared to natural selection. Yet, demonstrating the action of sexual selection is difficult, as its impact on the evolution of a trait often cannot be distinguished from other evolutionary forces, especially natural selection. The cephalic glands of the digger wasp subfamily Philanthinae (Hymenoptera, Crabronidae) offer an ideal model system to assess the action of sexuals selection: In males, two prominent glands, the mandibular and the postpharyngeal gland, produce and store the male sex pheromone and are, thus, subject to strong sexual selection. Females, on the other hand, use the secretion of their postpharyngeal gland for antimicrobial brood protection; hence, their head glands should evolve under natural selection.

In my PhD project, I aim to (1) analyse the interspecific variation in gland morphology and chemistry in males and females, (2) based on a molecular phylogeny of the Philanthinae, reveal potential phylogenetic trends in gland evolution, and (3) verify the action of sexual selection in males by comparing interspecific evolutionary trends between the sexes.



Curriculum vitae


Born August 1st, 1988 in Amberg


Undergraduate studies in biology at the University of Regensburg

2011- 2013

Graduate studies in biology at the University of Regensburg with focus on zoology, botany, and molecular ecology/evolutionary biology

2013 MSc in biology at the University of Regensburg (MSc thesis: "Two new aspects of the antimicrobial defense in larvae of Ampulex compressa (Hymenoptera: Ampulicidae)")

2013 to date

2013 to date: PhD student in Erhard Strohm`s lab at the University of Regensburg, Department for Zoology


Weiss K, Herzner G, Strohm E (2017) Sexual selection and the evolution of male pheromone glands in philanthine wasps (Hymenoptera, Crabronidae). BMC Evolutionary Biology (2017) 17:128

Weiss K, Strohm E, Kaltenpoth M, Herzner G (2015) Comparative morphology of the postpharyngeal gland in the Philanthinae (Hymenoptera, Crabronidae) and the evolution of an antimicrobial brood protection mechanism. BMC Evolutionary Biology 15: 291. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2148/15/291

Weiss K, Parzefall C, Herzner G (2014) Multifaceted Defense against Antagonistic Microbes in Developing Offspring of the Parasitoid Wasp Ampulex compressa (Hymenoptera, Ampulicidae). PLoS ONE 9(6): e98784. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098784.

Herzner G, Kaltenpoth M, Poettinger T, Weiss K, Koedam D, Kroiss J, Strohm E (2013) Morphology, chemistry and function of the postpharyngeal gland in the South American digger wasps Trachypus boharti and Trachypus elongatus. PLoS ONE 8(12): e82780. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082780.