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Dr. Katrin Hammerschmidt

B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.


physical: Building 16.x // The Station Crescent // Oteha Rohe
tel: +64 9 4140800 ext 41499 // email: k.hammerschmidt(at)


2008-2009, PostDoc, Understanding host parasite interactions - a proteomics approach., The University of Sheffield, UK (Wellcome Trust Value in People Award)

2007-2008, PostDoc, Is fast growth traded off against immunity in insects? The University of Sheffield, UK (DAAD)

2006-2007, PostDoc, Host switching strategies of the cestode Schistocephalus solidus., Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön, Germany

2002-2006, PhD, Host-parasite interactions in a cestode with a complex life cycle, Schistocephalus solidus., Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön, Germany

2002, Diploma in Biology, Reproductive strategies in the colonial simultaneously hermaphroditic protochordate Diplosoma listerianum., University of Münster, Germany, and Marine Biological Association, Plymouth, UK (Heinrich Hertz Foundation)


I am interested in the evolution of complexity, especially in the transition from an unicellular to a multicellular organism.

The aim of my current research project, in cooperation with Caroline Rose and Eric Libby, is to shed light on one of the major transitions in evolution: the transition to multicellularity (Maynard Smith & Szathmary, 1995). By combining theoretical modeling with experimental work on Pseudomonas fluorescens, we want to follow the transition in individuality from the lower to the higher hierarchical level. One of the central questions is, why individual cells, capable of individual replication, give up that right to exclusively replicate as part of a multicellular organism. Our work is based on the approach, that conflict between the lower and higher levels of selection fuels rather than hinders such a transition (Rainey, 2007; Rainey & Kerr 2010).

More generally, my research interests centre on the ecology and evolution of complex (parasite) life cycles. I am fascinated by host-parasite (immune) interactions, host switches, and the fitness advantages of complex life cycle evolution.


Hammerschmidt, K., Rose, C.J., Kerr, B. & Rainey, P.B. (2014) Life cycles, fitness decoupling and the evolution of multicellularity. Nature, in press.

Hammerschmidt, K., Deines, P. Wilson, A.J. & Rolff, J. (2012) Quantitative genetics of immunity and life history under different photoperiods. Heredity, 108: 569-576.

Jakobsen, P.J., Scharsack, J.P., Hammerschmidt, K., Deines, P., Kalbe, M. & Milinski, M. (2012) In vitro transition of Schistocephalus solidus (Cestoda) from coracidium to procercoid and from procercoid to plerocercoid. Experimental Parasitology, 130: 267-273.

Hammerschmidt, K., Pemberton, A.J., Michiels, N.K. & Bishop, J.D.D. (2011) Differential maternal allocation following mixed insemination contributes to variation in oocyte size in a sea squirt. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 422: 123-128.

Hammerschmidt, K., Koch, K., Milinski, M., Chubb, J. C. & Parker, G. A., (2009) When to go: Optimization of host switching in parasites with complex life cycles. Evolution, 63: 1976-1986.

Hammerschmidt, K. & Kurtz, J., (2009) (Invited review) Ecological immunology of a tapeworms' interaction with its two consecutive hosts. Advances in Parasitology, 68: 111-137.

Parker, G. A., Ball, M. A., Chubb, J. C., Hammerschmidt, K., Milinski, M. (2009) When should a trophically transmitted parasite manipulate its host? Evolution, 63: 448-458.

Hammerschmidt, K., Reinhardt, K. & Rolff, J. (2008) Does double-blind review favour female authors? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7: 354.

Scharsack, J. P., Koch, K. & Hammerschmidt, K. (2007) Who is in control of the stickleback immune system - interactions between Schistocephalus solidus and its specific vertebrate host. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B Biological Sciences 274: 3151-3158.

Hammerschmidt, K. & Kurtz, J. (2007) Schistocephalus solidus: Establishment of tapeworms in sticklebacks - fast food or fast lane? Experimental Parasitology 116: 142-149.

Kurtz, J. & Hammerschmidt, K. (2006) Resistance against heterogeneous sequential infections: Experimental studies with a tapeworm and its copepod host. Journal of Helminthology 80: 199-206.

Hammerschmidt, K. & Kurtz, J. (2005) Evolutionary implications of the adaptation to different immune systems in a parasite with a complex life cycle. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B Biological Sciences 272: 2511-2518.

Hammerschmidt, K. & Kurtz, J. (2005) Surface carbohydrate composition of a tapeworm in its consecutive intermediate hosts: Individual variation and fitness consequences.International Journal for Parasitology 35: 1499-1507.

Katrin Hammerschmidt