Dr. Kathrin Theißinger

Wissenschaftlerin (Molekulare Ökologie)

Research Interests

In my research I am investigating the evolution of interspecific interactions, biodiversity and ecological communities of freshwaters under anthropogenic influence by use of genomic methods. One of my main focus is to study evolutionary and ecological processes mediated by parasitism and host-parasite coevolution in aquatic ecosystems. I am also interested in studying the functional consequences of evolutionary changes at different biological levels, from cell to organism to ecosystems. My team applies genetic and genomic methods as a tool to enable a better understanding and management of natural populations, particularly with regard to biodiversity conservation, population dynamics and invasive species management in a wide variety of freshwater species (turtles, amphibians, crayfish, and macrozoobenthos). 

Academic History

  • Since 09/20 Researcher at LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics, Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Frankfurt, Germany
  • Since 06/12 Team Leader "Conservation Genetics" at the Institute of Environmental Science, University of Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Germany
  • 06/11 - 04/19 Coordinator of the degree programme "Bachelor of Environmental Sciences" at the Institute of Environmental Science, University of Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Germany
  • Since 04/11 Researcher and lecturer at the Institute of Environmental Science, University of Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Germany
  • 07/07 – 03/11 PhD at the Institute of Molecular Ecology, Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Germany, in cooperation with the Senckenberg Research Institute, Department of Limnology and Conservation, Gelnhausen, Germany.
  • 09/06 - 06/07 Researcher at the Senckenberg Research Institute, Department of Limnology and Conservation, Gelnhausen, Germany.
  • 08/06 Diploma in biology, Institute of Molecular Ecology, Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Germany
  • 11/04 – 10/05 Master Thesis at the Institute of Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, Australia
  • 10/00 – 10/04 Biological studies Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Germany


  • Übung Genetik (Biologie Lehramt M.Sc., Modul 11.2)

    Current Research Projects

    • GEODE: Genome evolution in decapods (C. Rutz, L. Bonassin, LL Boštjančić, C Francesconi)
    • Host-pathogen coevolution of freshwater crayfish and the crayfish plague disease agent (C. Francesconi) https://tbg.senckenberg.de/kathrin-theissinger/
    • Noble Crayfish Transcriptomics: Comparing molecular responses of the crayfish immune system to an crayfish plague infection (LL Boštjančić) https://tbg.senckenberg.de/kathrin-theissinger/
    • SystemLink: Crossing boundaries - Propagation of in-stream environmental alterations to adjacent terrestrial ecosystems (N Röder). https://www.uni-koblenz-landau.de/de/landau/fb7/umweltwissenschaften/systemlink
    • Reintroduction of the European Pond Turtle (Emys orbicularis) in the Upper Rhine Valley: genetic characterization, population dynamics and associated biodiversity assessments (L. Graf, I. Kuhn)

    Former Research Projects

    • Amphibians in agricultural landscapes: chemical landscape fragmentation implemented in a habitat modeling approach - (DFG-project; Christoph Leeb).
    • Mating system analyses in the European Pond Turtle (Emys orbicularis)
    • Genetic identification of the crayfish plague (Aphanomyces astaci) (Caterina Francesconi, Anne Schrimpf).
    • Population management of noble crayfish (Astacus astacus) in Europe (Anne Schrimpf).
    • eDNA detection of the freshwater fish Misgurnus fossilis (Lena Kusanke)
    • Metabarcoding of macrozoobenthos in Bti-treated swamps.
    • Survival in the mud: The impact of Irrigation on the genetic Variability of Earthworms considering Operational Taxonomic units (Lena Bauer)
    • Amphibians in the agricultural landscape - direct and indirect effects on population connectivity and viability (Patrick Lenhardt).
    • Genetic  identification of two poison frog species in zoos (P. Bodenseh, J.-C. Fischer)
    • Noble Crayfish phylogeography in Europe (A. Schrimpf)
    • Development of a reliable, non-invasive method for wild boar (Sus scrofa) population size estimation (K. Kolodziej)
    • Comparative phylogeography of cold adapted freshwater insects in Europe
    • Genetic identification of wild cats in Germany using hair samples
    • Mating system of flatback turtles (Natator depressus) in Australia

    Peer Review Publications

    (reprints on request)

    work in progress:

    • C Leeb, M Leschner, C Brühl, A. Sinsch, K Theissinger (submitted): Influence of landscape use on the biometry and population age of the palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus). Salamandra, under review
    • LL Boštjančić, C Francesconi, C Rutz, L Hoffbeck, L Poidevin, A Kress, J Jussila, J Makonnen4, B Feldmeyer, M Bálint, K Schwenk, O Lecompte, K Theissinger (submitted): Host-pathogen coevolution drives innate immune response to Aphanomyces astaci infection in freshwater crayfish: transcriptomic evidence. BMC Genomics, under review
    • LL Boštjančić, C Francesconi, C Rutz, L Hoffbeck, L Poidevin, A Kress, J Jussila, J Makonnen, B Feldmeyer, M Bálint, K Schwenk, O Lecompte, K Theissinger (submitted): Dataset of the de novo assembly and annotation of the marbled and noble crayfish hepatopancreas transcriptomes, BMC Genomics, under review
    • C Leeb, L Schuler, C Brühl, K Theissinger (submitted): Temperature dependent pesticide toxicity in amphibians: an underestimated risk in face of climate change? PlosONE, under review.
    • C Francesconi, M Pirvu, A Schrimpf, R Schulz, L Parvulescu, K Theissinger (submitted): Mating strategies of invasive versus indigenous crayfish: multiple paternity as driver for invasion success? Freshwater Crayfish, under review
    • AS Le Gal, K Theissinger, C Francesconi, B Quintard, JY Georges (in preparation): Mating system is influenced by phenotype in the European pond turtle Emys orbicularis. 


    • G Formenti, K Theissinger, C Fernandes, et al., (in press) The era of reference genomes in conservation genomics. Trends in Ecology and Evolution
    • K Theissinger, L Edsman, I Maguire, J Dieguez-Uribeondo, J Jussila (2021): Conservation of European freshwater crayfish. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 2021, 872.
    • Boštjančić, L.L., Francesconi, C.,  Rutz, C., Hoffbeck, L., Poidevin, L., Kress, A., Jussila, J., Makonnen, J., Feldmeyer, B., Bálint, M., Lecompte, O., Theissinger, K. (2021): Comparative transcriptomics analysis of noble crayfish and marbled crayfish immune response to crayfish plague disease. bioRxiv, doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.05.25.44516
    • C Leeb, L Schuler, CA Brühl, K Theissinger (2021): Low Temperatures Lead to Higher Toxicity of the Fungicide Folpet to Larval Stages of Rana temporaria and Bufotes viridis. bioRxiv,
    • J Jussila, C Francesconi, K Theissinger, H Kokko, Jenny Makkonen (2021): Coevolution between noble crayfish and Aphanomyces astaci raising hope for balanced relationship. Freshwater Crayfish, in press.
    • J Jussila, L Edsman, I Maguire, J Dieguez-Uribeondo, K Theissinger (2021): Money kills native ecosystems: European crayfish as an example. Frontiers in Ecology & Evolution, 9, 648495. https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2021.648495
    • C Francesconi, J Makkonen, A Schrimpf, J Jussila, H Kokko, K Theissinger (2021): Elevated resistance and latent infections caused by reduced virulence: marbled crayfish and noblecrayfish challenged with the crayfish plague disease agent. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 9, 647037.                           doi: 10.3389/fevo.2021.647037


    •  C Leeb, SL Kolbenschlag, A Laubscher, E Adams, C Brühl, K Theissinger (2020): Avoidance behavior of juvenile common toads (Bufo bufo) to surface contamination by different pesticidesPLoS ONE 15(11): e0242720. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0242720
    • LM Kusanke, J Panteleit, E Sünger, S Stoll, R Schulz, K Theissinger (2020): Aquatic and Sedimentary Environmental DNA: Comparing Sampling and Laboratory Methods for the Detection of an Endangered, Cryptic Fish Species (Misgurnus fossilis). Ecology and Evolution, DOI: 10.1002/ece3.654
    • C Leeb, C Brühl, K Theissinger (2020): Potential pesticide exposure during the post-breeding migration of the common toad (Bufo bufo) in a vineyard dominated landscape. Science of the Total Environment, doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.134430
    • O Pacioglu, K Theissinger, A Alexa, C Samoila, R Schulz, A Schrimpf, JP Zubrod, O SÎrbu, M PÎrvu, S Lele, JI Jones and L Parvulescu (2020): Multifaceted implications behind the competition of native and invasive crayfish: a glimmer of hope for the native’s long-term survival? Biological Invasions, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-019-02136-0
    • NN FitzSimmons, SD Pittard, N McIntyre, MP Jensen, M Guinea, M Hamann, R Kennett, B Leis, CJ Limpus, DJ Limpus, MJ McCann, A McDonald, G McFarlane, CJ Parmenter, K Pendoley, B Prince, L Slater, K Theissinger, AD. Tucker, D Waayers, A Whiting, S Whiting (2020): Phylogeography, genetic stocks, and conservation implications for an Australian endemic marine turtle. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 30, 440-460. DOI: 10.1002/aqc.3270


    • K Theissinger, N Röder, S Allgeier, AJ Beermann, CA Brühl, A Friedrich, S Michiels and K Schwenk (2019): Mosquito control actions affect chironomid diversity in temporary wetlands of the Upper Rhine Valley. Molecular Ecology, 2019, 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.15214
    • J Panteleit, T Horvath, J Jussila, J Makkonen, W Perry, R Schulz, K Theissinger, A Schrimpf (2019): Invasive rusty crayfish (Faxonius rusticus) populations in North America infected with the crayfish plague disease agent (Aphanomyces astaci ). Freshwater Science, DOI: 10.1086/703417

    • R Andriantsoa, S Tönges, J Panteleit, K Theissinger, VC Carneiro, J Rasamy, and F Lyko (2019): Ecological plasticity and commercial impact of invasive marbled crayfish populations on Madagascar. BMC Ecology, 19, 8-17. DOI: 0.1186/s12898-019-0224-1


    • K Theissinger, A Kästel, V Elbrecht, J Makkonen, S Michiels, S Schmidt, S Allgeier, F Leese, CA Brühl (2018): Using DNA metabarcoding for assessing chironomid diversity and community change regarding mosquito control actions in temporary wetlands. Metabarcoding and Metagenomics, 1: e21060
      DOI 10.3897/mbmg.1.21060
    • J Makkonen, J Jussila, J Panteleit, NS Keller, A Schrimpf. K Theissinger, R Kortet, L Martín-Torrijos, JV Sandoval-Sierra, J Diéguez-Uribeondo, and H Kokko (2018): MtDNA allows the sensitive detection and haplotyping of the crayfish plague disease agent Aphanomyces astaci showing clues about its origin and migration. Parasitology, doi: 10.1017/S0031182018000227


    • A Schrimpf , M Piscione, R Cammaerts, D Herman, M Collas, A Jung, F Ottburg, I Roessink, X Rollin, R Schulz, K Theissinger (2017): Genetic characterization of Western European noble crayfish populations (Astacus astacus) for advanced conservation management strategies. Conservation Genetics. DOI 10.1007/s10592-017-0981-3
    • PP Lenhardt, CA Brühl, C Leeb, K Theissinger (2017): Amphibian population genetics in agricultural landscapes: Do non-visible barriers in viniculture drive the population structuring of the European common frog (Rana temporaria)? PeerJ, DOI 10.7717/peerj.3520
      • J Panteleit, NS Keller, H Kokko, J Jussila, J Makkonen, K Theissinger, A Schrimpf (2017): Investigation of ornamental crayfish reveals new carrier species of the crayfish plague pathogen (Aphanomyces astaci). Aquatic Invasions, 12, (1:) 77–83.
          • PP Lenhardt, K Theissinger (2017): Repeated randomized selection of genotypes for reliable population differentiation in data containing siblings. European Journal of Wildlife Research.  DOI 10.1007/s10344-016-1061-6


          • K Theissinger, C Falckenhayn, D Blande, A Toljamo, J Gutekunst, J Makkonen, J Jussila, F Lyko, A Schrimpf, R Schulz, H Kokko (2016): De Novo assembly and annotation of the freshwater crayfish Astacus astacus transcriptome. Marine Genomics. doi:10.1016/j.margen.2016.02.006


            • A Schrimpf, K Theissinger, J Dahlem, I Maguire, L Parvulescu, HK Schulz, R Schulz (2014): Phylogeography of noble crayfish (Astacus astacus) reveals multiple refugia. Freshwater Biology. 59, 761–776. doi:10.1111/fwb.12302


            • A Müller, P Lenhardt, K Theissinger (2013): Pros and Cons of external swabbing in amphibians. European Journal of Wildlife Research. DOI 10.1007/s10344-013-0747-2
            • P Lenhardt, RB Schäfer, K Theissinger, C Brühl (2013): An expert-based landscape permeability model for assessing the impact of agricultural management on amphibian migration. Basic and Applied Ecology, 14, 442–451.
            • K Theissinger, M Bálint, K Feldheim, P Haase, J Johannesen, I Laube, SU Pauls (2013): Glacial survival and postglacial recolonization of an arctic-alpine freshwater insect (Arcynopteryx dichroa, Plecoptera, Perlodidae) in Europe. Journal of Biogeography, 40, 236–248 doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2012.02793.x
            • K Kolodziej, I Nikolov, HK Schulz, K Theissinger, R Schulz (2013):Evaluation of Fecal Storage and DNA Extraction Methods in Wild Boar (Sus scrofa). Biochemical Genetics. DOI 10.1007/s10528-013-9573-1


            • K Kolodziej, HK Schulz, K Theissinger, C Ebert, U Hohmann, R Schulz (2012): Comparison of established methods for quantifying genotyping error rates in wildlife forensics. Conservation Genetic Resources, DOI 10.1007/s12686-012-9729-z


            • K Kolodziej, K Theissinger, J Brün, HK Schulz, R Schulz (2011): Determination of the minimum number of microsatellite markers for individual genotyping in wild boar (Sus scrofa) using a test with close relatives. European Journal of Wildlife Research, DOI 10.1007/s10344-011-0588-9
            • A Schrimpf, HK Schulz, K Theissinger, L Parvulescu, R Schulz (2011): The first large-scale genetic analysis of the vulnerable noble crayfish Astacus astacus reveals low haplotype diversity in central European populations. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems, 401, 35.
            • K Theissinger, M Bálint, P Haase, J Johannesen, I Laube, SU Pauls (2011): Molecular data and species distribution models reveal the Pleistocene history of the mayfly Ameletus inopinatus (Ephemeroptera: Siphlonuridae). Freshwater Biology, 56 (12), 2554–2566.
            • J Taubmann, K Theissinger, KA Feldheim, I Laube, W Graf, P Haase, J Johannesen, S Pauls (2011): Modelling range shifts and assessing genetic diversity distribution of the montane aquatic mayfly Ameletus inopinatus in Europe under climate change scenarios. Conservation Genetics, 12, 503 – 516.
            • M Bálint, S Domisch, CHM Engelhardt, P Haase, S Lehrian, J Sauer, K Theissinger, SU Pauls, C Nowack (2011) Cryptic biodiversity loss linked to global climate change. Nature Climate Change, 1, 313-318.
            • M Bálint, L Ujvárosi, K Theissinger, S Lehrian, N Mészáros, SU Pauls (2011): A neglected diversity hotspot: genetic variation in the Carpathians. In: Proceedings of Biodiversity Hotspots. Springer, Heidelberg.


            • SU Pauls, K Theissinger, L Ujvarosi, M Bálint, P Haase (2009): Patterns of population structure in two closely related, partially sympatric caddisflies in Eastern Europe: historic introgression, limited dispersal and cryptic diversity. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 28 (3): 517-536.
            • K Theissinger, K Feldheim, A Seitz, SU Pauls (2009): Isolation and characterization of 11 polymorphic trinucleotide microsatellite markers in the stonefly Arcynopteryx compacta (Plecoptera: Perlodidae). Molecular Ecology Resources, 9, 357-359.
            • K Theissinger, NN FitzSimmons, CJ Limpus, CJ Parmenter, AD Phillott (2009): Mating system, multiple paternity and effective population size in the endemic flatback turtle (Natator depressus) in Australia. Conservation Genetics, 10, 329-346.


            • K Theissinger, K Feldheim, J Taubmann, A Seitz, SU Pauls (2008): Isolation and characterization of 10 highly polymorphic di- and trinucleotide microsatellite markers in the mayfly Ameletus inopinatus (Ephemeroptera: Siphlonuridae). Molecular Ecology Resources, 8, 1285-1287.




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