Dr. Ralf C. Mueller

IMPRS Alumni
Department of Migration

Main Focus

Coming from an IT background I was always fascinated by information storage, transmission and decoding. DNA is basically biological data storage with clever coding mechanisms. With the advent of next generation sequencing technology this information becomes easily accessible. On the computational side I am eager to decode the information hidden in the DNA by applying constantly evolving methods, models, and software. On the biological side I would like to learn to interpret this huge amount of data in an evolutionary context.

Within my project I would like to investigate the evolution of the immune gene repertoire in waterfowl, also known as the “immunome”. By applying comparative genomics, I am assuming a correlation between interspecific differences in the immunome and species specific resistance to avian diseases. Based on this, it should be possible to identify and quantify natural selection acting on genes of the immunome that influence disease resistance. Identifying conservative and variable regions within these genes might inform us about commonalities and differences between species that show different responses to pathogens.

I would further like to extend the idea that interspecific immunome variability is linked to disease resistance and might therefore have a strong influence on the demographic success of a species. I am particularly interested to explore the association of the immunome with speciation rate and species richness by investigating past species radiation events under the light of the immune gene repertoire. Linking these findings with migration, and past climate and geographical events have the potential to extend our knowledge about evolutionary processes and might provide valuable information about species conservation.

Curriculum Vitae

University Education

  • 2016-present PhD Disease Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics, Department of Migration and Immuno-Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, University of Konstanz
  • 2013-2016 MSc Ecology and Evolution, Microbial Ecology Group, University of Konstanz, Thesis: Metagenome Analysis of Rice Field Soil
  • 2010-2013 BSc Biological Sciences, Microbial Ecology Group, University of Konstanz, Thesis: Development of a PCR protocol for high-throughput sequencing of the functional marker gene dsrB to characterise the diversity of sulphate reducing microorganisms

Research Assistance and Field Experience

  • 2014-2015 Microbial Ecology Group, University of Konstanz, Assembly of Next Generation Sequencing data
  • 2013-2014 Microbial Ecology Group, University of Konstanz, Gibbs free energies of formation calculator
  • 2009 Calgary Zoo Centre for Conservation Research, Val Marie (Canada), Mark-recapture study of the black-tailed Prairie dog in preparation for the reintroduction of the extirpated Black-footed ferret
  • 2008-2009 Florida International University, Shark Bay (Australia), Shark Bay Ecosystem Research Project (SBERP), Animal observations, Catching and safe handling of large marine animals, Stable Isotope samples preparation

Professional Experience

  • 2009-2010 IT Specialist, T-Mobile International AG, Fellbach (Germany), Planning and deployment of the T-Mobile Core Network
  • 1998-2006 IT Specialist, Vodafone GmbH, Stuttgart (Germany), Systems Administration and Technician Configuration Management, Thesis (Apprenticeship): Configuration of Linux clients to connect to a remote Unix network via VPN

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