© Gudrun Herzner
Dr. Gudrun Herzner
My main research interests are evolutionary, behavioural, and chemical ecology, with a special focus on receiver bias processes (sensory exploitation, sensory trap) in chemical communication systems.
In my PhD project I investigated the evolution of the male pheromone and the female preference for it in the European Beewolf Philanthus triangulum. The aim was to identify selection pressures that might have governed the evolution of this chemical communication system. I found that sensory exploitation and female choice for genetic compatibility might have been important driving forces.
Recently I found that male beewolves possess huge glands in their heads that show all criteria of postpharyngeal glands. This finding is surprising, because postpharyngeal glands were long thought to occur only in ants, where they mediate nestmate recognition and thus have a social function. In male beewolves the postpharyngeal gland has a 'selfish' function as reservoir of the sex pheromone. Since the composition of the male pheromone has a genetic component, i.e. brothers have a more similar pheromone composition than not related individuals, the postpharyngeal gland of this solitary species has the potential to mediate kin recognition and to allow for inbreeding avoidance. I am currently screening other hymenopteran species to learn more about the phylogenetic distribution of the postpharyngeal gland and its possible role in the evolution of sociality.
The postpharyngeal gland can also be found in female European beewolves and its importance for the preservation of prey bees is my second field of interest. Before female beewolves oviposit on their paralyzed prey bees, they apply large amounts of a secretion from their postpharyngeal glands to the surface of the bees. This embalming of the prey reduces water condensation on the surface and in this way indirectly hampers the growth of mold fungi under moist conditions. Under dry conditions the embalming decreases the evaporative water loss of the prey. The secretion from the postpharyngeal gland thus protects the larval provisions from adverse physical conditions so that they stay fresh and consumable. Currently, I am investigating the details of the preservation mechanism.
2005 to date
Postdoctoral position at Regensburg University
PhD; PhD thesis: “Evolution of the Pheromone Communication System in the European Beewolf Philanthus triangulum F. (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae)”
2003 - 2004
Research Associate at Wolfgang Rössler's Lab at the Department of Behavioural Physiology and Sociobiology, Würzburg, University
2000 – 2003
Doctoral position within the SFB [Collaborative Research Center] 554 (Project B3) in Erhard Strohm’s lab at the Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, and in Peter Schreier's Lab at the Department of Food Chemistry, Würzburg University
Diplom (MSc) in Biology at Würzburg University; Diploma thesis: “Variables elterliches Investment und Phänotypische Plastizität des Dungkäfers Onthophagus taurus Schreber, 1759 (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae)” [Variable parental investment and phenotypic plasticity in the dung beetle Onthophagus taurus]
August 1998 – August 1999
Academic year at Duke University, NC, USA: Fellowship granted by the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) and the Duke Graduate School
March 1998 – May 1998
Practical course at the Ivory Coast (Comoé National Park), West Africa: Investigations on the chemical ecology of dung beetles
April 1997 – September 1997
Volunteering as field assistant in a project in Venezuela (Embalse de Guri): Investigation of patterns and processes in the distribution and abundance of frugivorous butterflies in tropical dry forest fragments; with Ghazala Shahabuddin and John Terborgh, Duke University and Center for Tropical Conservation Biology, North Carolina, USA
1994 – 2000
Study of Biology at Würzburg University (with focus on Animal Physiology, Animal Ecology, Biochemistry, and Human Genetics)
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.
Uma D, Durkee C, Herzner G, Weiss M (2013) Double deception: ant-micking spiders elude both visually- and chemically-oriented predators. PLoS ONE 8 (11): e79660.
Herzner G, Schlecht A, Dollhofer V, Parzefall C, Harrar K, Kreuzer A, Pilsl L, Ruther J (2013) Larvae of the parasitoid wasp Ampulex compressa sanitize their host, the American cockroach, with a blend of antimicrobials. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 110 (4): 1369-1374.
Kaltenpoth M, Yildirim E, Gürbüz M, Herzner G, Strohm E (2012) Refining the roots of the beewolf-Streptomyces symbiosis: Antennal symbionts in the rare genus Philanthinus (Hymenoptera, Crabronidae). Applied and Environmental Microbiology 78 (3): 822-827.
Herzner G, Engl T, Strohm E (2011). The cryptic combat against competing microbes is a costly component of parental care in a digger wasp. Animal Behaviour 82: 321-328.
Herzner G, Ruther J, Goller S, Schulz S, Goettler W, Strohm E (2011) Structure, chemical composition and putative function of the postpharyngeal gland of the Emerald cockroach wasp, Ampulex compressa (Hymenoptera, Ampulicidae). Zoology 114: 36-45.
Strohm E, Kaltenpoth M, Herzner G (2010) Is the postpharyngeal gland of a solitary digger wasp homologous to ants? Evidence from chemistry and physiology. Insectes Sociaux 57:285-291.
Herzner G, Strohm E (2008). Food wrapping by females of the European beewolf Philanthus triangulum retards water loss of larval provisions. Physiological Entomology 33: 101-109.
Strohm E, Herzner G, Kaltenpoth M, Boland W, Schreier P, Geiselhardt S, Peschke K, Schmitt T (2008). The chemistry of the postpharyngeal gland of female European beewolves (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae). Journal of Chemical Ecology 34: 575-583.
Oettler J, Schmitt T, Herzner G, Heinze J (2008). Chemical profiles of mated and virgin queens, egg-laying intermorphs and workers of the ant Crematogaster smithi. Journal of Insect Physiology 54: 672-679.
Strohm E, Kroiss J, Herzner G, Laurien-Kehnen C, Boland W, Schreier P, Schmitt T (2008). A cuckoo in wolves' clothing? Chemical mimicry in a specialized cuckoo wasp of the European beewolf (Hymenoptera, Chrysididae and Crabronidae). Frontiers in Zoology 5:2.
Herzner G, Goettler W, Kroiss J, Purea A, Webb A, Jakob PM., Rössler W, Strohm E (2007). Males of a solitary wasp possess a postpharyngeal gland. Arthropod Structure & Development 36: 123-133.
Strohm E, Herzner G, Goettler W (2007). A "social" gland in a solitary wasp? The postpharyngeal gland of female European beewolves (Hymenoptera, Crabronidae). Arthropod Structure & Development 36: 113-122.
Schmitt T, Herzner G, Weckerle B, Schreier P, Strohm E (2007). Volatiles of foraging honeybees Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae) and their potential role as semiochemicals. Apidologie 38 (2): 164-170.
Herzner G, Schmitt T, Peschke K, Hilpert A, Strohm E (2007). Food wrapping with the post pharyngeal gland secretion by females of the european beewolf Philanthus triangulum. Journal of Chemical Ecology 33 (4): 849-859.
Herzner G, Strohm E (2007). Fighting fungi with physics: food wrapping by a solitary wasp prevents water condensation. Current Biology 17: R46-R47.
Goettler W, Kaltenpoth M, Herzner G, Strohm E (2007). Morphology and ultrastructure of a bacteria cultivation organ: The antennal glands of female European beewolves, Philanthus triangulum (Hymenoptera, Crabronidae). Arthropod Structure & Development 36: 1-9.
Kroiss J, Schmitt T, Schreier P, Strohm E, Herzner G (2006). A selfish function of a social gland? A postpharyngeal gland functions as sex pheromone reservoir in males of a solitary wasp. Journal of Chemical Ecology 32: 2763-2776.
Herzner G, Schmitt T, Heckel F, Schreier P, Strohm E (2006). Brothers smell similar: Variation in the sex pheromone of male European Beewolves and its implications for inbreeding avoidance. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 89: 433-442.
Kaltenpoth M, Göttler W, Dale C, Stubblefield JW, Herzner G, Roeser-Mueller K, Strohm E (2006). 'Candidatus Streptomyces philanthi', an endosymbiotic streptomycete in the antennae of Philanthus digger wasps. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology 56 (6): 1403-1411.
Herzner G, Schmitt T, Linsenmair KE, Strohm E (2005). Prey recognition by females of the European beewolf and its potential for a sensory trap. Animal Behaviour 70: 1411-1418.
Kaltenpoth M, Göttler W, Herzner G, Strohm E (2005). Symbiotic bacteria protect wasp larvae from fungal infestation. Current Biology 15: 475-479.
Herzner G, Schmitt T, Linsenmair KE, Strohm E (2003). Flagellar sensilla in male and female European beewolves, Philanthus triangulum F. (Hymenoptera : Sphecidae). Entomologica Fennica 14: 237-247.
Schmitt T, Strohm E, Herzner G, Bicchi C, Krammer G, Heckel F, Schreier P (2003). (S)-2,3-dihydrofarnesoic acid, a new component in cephalic glands of male European beewolves Philanthus triangulum. Journal of Chemical Ecology 29: 2469-2479.
Shahabuddin G, Herzner G, Aponte C, Gomez MD (2000). Persistence of a frugivorous butterfly species in Venezuelan forest fragments: the role of movement and habitat quality. Biodiversity and Conservation 9: 1623-1641.