CV: Thomas Friedl


 Professor Dr. rer. nat. Friedl, Thomas

Department of Experimental Phycology and
Sammlung von Algenkulturen
Evolution der Algen und Cyanobakterien / Microbiology Experimental Phycology and Culture Collection of Algae Albrecht-von-Haller-Institut für Pflanzenwissenschaften,
Untere Karspüle 2,
37073 Göttingen (Germany)
Phone: +49 551 397868
Fax: +49 551 397871
web site:

Born 1960 in München

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Professional career

1985: Diploma in Biology, University of Marburg/L.
1989: PhD in Biology (Plant Systematics), University of Bayreuth
1990 - 1997: Assistant Professor, University of Bayreuth
1997: Habilitation in Botany, University of Bayreuth
1997: Feodor-Lynnen-Fellowship of the Humboldt foundation
1997 - 1999: Heisenberg Fellow of the DFG, University of Kaiserslautern
1999 - present: Full Professor (C3) in Phycology, University of Göttingen


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Editorial Service

Editorial Board: Phycologia (Allen Press)

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Scientific duties

Director of Sammlung von Algenkulturen at University of Göttingen (SAG)
2003-2004 dean of the Biological faculty,
2004 - 2006 vice dean of the Biological faculty Referee for funding agencies: DFG, NERC, GIF-Israel, NSF-USA.
Referee for scientific journals: Journal of Phycology, Current Microbiology, Lichenologist, Journal of Applied Phycology, Molecular Biology and Evolution, Hydrobiologia, Protist et al.

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Main fields of research


  • Molecular phylogeny of cyanobacteria and eukaryotic algae
  • Assessing biodiversity of algae and cyanobacteria in biofilms
  • in vitro conservation of algal biodiversity and maintenance methods for culture collections
  • quality control of microalgal cultures using molecular fingerprinting techniques

Research profile

My research centers on the diversity and phylogenetic relationships of microorganisms, i.e. eukaryotic algae and cyanobacteria.
I am also interested in the origin of a particular symbiosis of algae and cyanobacteria with fungi, i.e. lichens. Particular interest is on the morphology, ultrastructure of algae and assessing their evolution using molecular markers. DNA sequence analyses of various marker genes are used not only to trace the evolution of microscopic algae and cyanobacteria, but also to assess their biodiversity in biofilms. Therefore, my research has two strong focus: one is on cultures of microalgae (incl. cyanobacteria) for which I can facilitate one of the largest collections of living microalgae, the Sammlung von Algenkulturen at University of Göttingen (SAG) which forms the center of my department.
The other focus is on algal-dominated biofilms from which we try to assess the biodiversity using a two-physic approach, i.e. independent of cultures using exclusively molecular techniques and by traditional culturing using both, molecular and morphological methods. This environmental-based research has also strong implications for phylogeny research, because new lineages and species of algae/cyanobacteria have been discovered. This basic research has recently been funded by two DFG projects. One is within the Research Unit Geobiology of Organo- and Biofilms (coordinated by Prof. J. Reitner) where calcifying biofilms in hard water creeks are investigated.
The other is a joint project on green air-dry biofilms on artificial hard substrates where biodiversity and ecophysiological aspects are studied. For research I am particularly interested in the following groups of algae: cyanobacteria, green algae and more recently heterokonts, i.e. diatoms and xanthophytes. My group has mainly employed nuclear-encoded genes for ribosomal RNAs (18S, 26S, ITS-1,2), cyanobacterial 16S rDNA, group I introns in 18S rDNA and diverse introns present in cyanobacterial genomes.
Another focus of my group's research is in vitro conservation of microalgae for culture collections. In particular cryopreservation, i.e. maintenance of cultures indefinitely in an arrested state, is investigated and different protocols for successful cryopreservation are tested. High-resolution fingerprinting techniques are employed to assess the genetic stability of microalgae after cryopreservation, to detect genomic alterations caused by mutations and hardly detectable contaminations (e.g. viruses). In addition, close comparisons of strains representing the same species of microalga but different isolates are conducted.


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Selected publications (up to five since 2000)

Fewer, D.P., Friedl, T. and Büdel, B.: "Chroococcidiopsis and heterocyst differentiating cyanobacteria are each others closest living relatives",  Mol. Phylogen. Evol. 23, 82-90, 2002.
Romeike, J., Friedl, T., Helms, G. and Ott, S.: "Genetic diversity of algal and fungal partners in four species of Umbilicaria (lichenized ascomycetes) along a transect of the Antarctic Peninsula", Mol. Biol. Evol. 19, 1209-1217, 2002.
Behnke, A.,Friedl, T., Chepurnov, V.A. and Mann, D.G.: "Reproductive compatibility and rDNA sequence analyses in the Sellaphora pupula complex (Bacillariophyta)", J. Phycol. 40, 193-208, 2004.
Karsten, U., Friedl, T., Schumann, R., Hoyer, K. and Lembcke, S.: "Mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) and phylogenies in green algae: Prasiola and its relatives from the Trebouxiophyceae (Chlorophyta)", J. Phycol. 41, 557-566, 2005.
Simon, D., Moline, J., Helms, G., Friedl, T. and Bhattacharya, D.: "Divergent histories of rDNA group I introns in the lichen fungi", J. Mol. Evol. 60, 434-446, 2005.
Müller, J., Friedl, T., Hepperle, D. and Day, J.G.: "Intraspecific variation in Chlorella vulgaris (Trebouxiophyceae, Chlorophyta) as revealed by ITS rDNA sequencing and Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphisms", J. Phycol. (in press).



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