Florian Schiestl

Florian Schiestl, Prof. Dr.

Tel.: +41 (0)44 634 84 09


Short Curriculum

1995 Magister in Biology, University of Vienna.
1999 PhD in Evolutionary Biology, University of Vienna.
1999 Postdoctoral Fellow, The Australian National University, Canberra.
2001 Oberassistant, Geobotanical Institute, ETH Zürich
2005 Habilitation in Evolutionary Ecology, ETH Zürich
2007 Assistant Professor with tenure track, University of Zürich
2012 Promotion to Associate Professor, University of Zürich

Download (PDF, 201 KB) full CV (July 2015)

Research interests:

My research deals with ecological and evolutionary questions in the framework of plant – pollinator interactions. The plant organ that mediates these interactions is the flower; flowers are themselves subject to pollinator-driven evolution, but also impact on species-isolation, by specifically attracting certain types of pollinators. In my group we investigate mechanisms and consequences of floral evolution, by applying state-of-the art analytical methods such as gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, electrophysiology, spectrophotometry, as well as modern sequencing technologies and bioinformatics, and last but not least behavioural experiments with pollinator insects. Major topics are:

Evolution of floral signals and flower morphology - Plants show amazing variation in floral morphology and signals. Little is known about the functions and evolutionary forces behind this diversity. We study phenotypic selection on signals and morphology in the field, as well as rapid evolutionary change in these traits during experimental evolution. Our research incorporates pollinators as well as herbivores and carnivores, to gain a integrative view on the ecological relevance of floral signals. The molecular bases of floral signals and their evolutionary patterns are also of high interest, to understand the genetic complexity of floral signals as well as their short term adaptability.

Pollinator-driven speciation - The formation of new species is one of the main processes generating biodiversity. Pollinator-driven speciation is a form of ecological speciation, the consequence of divergent selection, when plant lineages adapt to different ecological niches. By using experimental evolution and studies in natural populations, we investigate pollinator-mediated selection, plant adaptation to pollinators and the resulting reproductive isolation. We are also interested in the traits that form the basis of adaptations to different pollinators, especially how different floral signals and morphology attract different pollinators. We also study the molecular bases of such adaptations, to reveal the complexity of genetic changes underlying the formation of new species.

Evolution of floral mimicry - Some plants have evolved flowers that imitate signals, for example those of rewarding plants, insect oviposition sites, or mating partner. Often these mimetic plants do not reward their pollinators. We investigate mechanisms and evolutionary forces of floral mimicry, especially in orchids that mimic sexual signals of bees. We also ask the question whether and how mimicry impacts on the diversification of the plants.

PostDocs and students

Current: Dr Jing Cai, Daniel Gervasi, Anina Knauer, Pengjuan Zu, Roman Kellenberger, Sergio Ramos Castro

Past: Martin von Arx, Heather Kirk, Philipp Schlüter, Nicolas Vereecken, Karin Gross, Mimi Sun, Alok Gupta, Paul Page, Shuqing Xu, Jim Mant, Charlotte Salzmann, Marc Wälti, Fabrizio Steinebrunner, Jahel Hämmerli, Moe Bakhtiari, Brian Osterwalder, Manuel Rey, Joëlle Mühlemann, Christoph Brändli, Franz Huber, Daniela Büsser

For (potential) students

If you are interested in a master thesis in my group, have a look at the available master thesis topics. Occasionally, I also have PhD/PostDoc positions available. Please contact me to inquire about such possibilities. Here is some advice for (potential) graduate students.