Mag. Dr. Michaela Thoß
Konrad-Lorenz-Institut für Vergleichende Verhaltensforschung
Department für Integrative Biologie und Evolution
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
T +43 (1) 489 09 15 848
F +43 (1) 489 09 15 801
E-Mail an Michaela Thoß senden [Link 1]
Behavioral and Evolutionary Ecology in house mice:
- Mutual mate choice
- Male-Male competition
- Effects of functional and neutral genetic diversity on fitness traits
- Heritability of heterozygosity
- Multiplex microsatellite typing
- Single strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP), cloning, sequencing for investigating MHC class I and II loci
- Major Urinary Proteins (MUPs) isoform diversity
- Sexual dimorphism in excretion of MUPs
- Utilization of MUPs in individual recognition and as ownership signature
Austrian Science Foundation (FWF) grant P24711-B21 (see also Vetdoc [Link 3])
Project duration: September 2012 - August 2015
1. Re-examining the functions of Major Urinary Proteins (MUPs) in chemical communication
Understanding the nature of genetic benefits of sexual selection is an important problem in behavioral and evolutionary biology. Studies with house mice (Mus musculus) indicate that the genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) influence odor and mating preferences that enhance genetic compatibility. It has more recently been proposed that major urinary proteins (MUPs) provide a unique individual signature or ‘barcode’ that facilitates inbreeding avoidance and mating with heterozygous males. Together with my collaborator, Dr. Dustin Penn (University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Austria), I have applied for a FWF-funded project to determine whether MUPs provide individual signatures that mediate mating preferences in wild house mice and whether MUP production is under sexual selection and honestly signals a male’s quality and condition.
2. Genetic and Life-Stress Impacts on Telomere Dynamics in Wild Mice
Increasing evidence from biomedical research indicates that damage to telomeres and their repair mechanisms could be a major causal factor contributing to accelerated organismal aging, immunosenescence, various age-related diseases (e.g. cardiovascular diseases, dementia and cancer) and premature death. In vitro studies show that telomeres are especially vulnerable to oxidative damage by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and that oxidative stress impairs the function of telomerase and other mechanisms that repair telomeres. I’m currently collaborating with the working group of Dr. P.Ilmonen (Turku University, Finland) on a highly interdisciplinary research project, which will provide novel experimental knowledge to increase the understanding of fundamental mechanisms underlying the complex connections between individuals’ life-styles, health and longevity.
3. Genetic benefits of multiple mating
The evolution of polyandry in mammals remains puzzling as it is generally associated with increased risk of infection and predation. However, genetic benefits of polyandry (ggod genes or compatibility) have been invoked to explain multiple mating rates of 30% in wild house mouse populations. I’m currently collaborating with Mag. K. Thonhauser (PhD student at Konrad Lorenz Institute) to investigate whether females can increase offspring and within-litter diversity through multiple mating.
4. Effects of t haplotype on reproductive success and mate choice in wild house mice
The t haplotype is a selfish genetic element that is wide spread in wild house mouse populations. The t element preferentially inserts in the MHC region and is hypothesized to alter an individual’s scent. More importantly, t carrying sperm cells impair the development of neighboring non-t carrying sperm cells (meiotic driver) and t-carrying males produce 90% of t carrying sperm cells. However, lethal and non-lethal t haplotypes exist and individuals homozygous for a lethal t haplotype die during development whereas individuals homozygous for non-lethal t haplotypes survive. I’m currently collaborating with A. Fresdorf (Diploma student at Konrad Lorenz Institute) on investigating the levels of t carriers in our mouse colony and the effects of t carrying on reproductive success, mate choice and life span in house mice.
Education and Employment
May 2007 to August 2011
PhD student at Konrad Lorenz Institute for Ethology Vienna, Austria
“Heterozygosity and sexual selection in wild house mice”, supervisor: Dustin J. Penn. Graduation received: April 2011
January 2006 to November 2006
Diploma thesis at Institute of Zoology at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
“Male mate choice in golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus)”, supervisor: Prof. Dr. R. Gattermann
October 2001 to November 2006
Diploma student in biology at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany (specialization in Behaviour and Ecology, Genetics, and Nature Conservation)
High school graduation in Lichtenstein, Saxony, Germany
Born in Karl-Marx-Stadt, now Chemnitz, Saxony, Germany
Publikationen [Link 4]
Thoß, M., Ilmonen, P., Musolf, K. & Penn, D. (2010): MHC heterozygosity enhances reproductive success. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft (DZG e.V.), Hamburg, Germany.
Thoß, M., Stundner, G. & Ilmonen, P. (2008): Role of inbreeding and infectious diseases in mate choice of wild female mice. Ethologische Gesellschaft, Regensburg Meeting, Regensburg, Germany.
Thoß, M., Ilmonen, P., Musolf, K., Penn, D. (2011): MHC heterozygosity enhances reproductive success in wild house mice. Graduate Meeting of the DZG, Bielefeld, Germany.
Thoß, M., Ilmonen, P., Musolf, K. & Penn, D. (2010): MHC heterozygosity enhances reproductive success. 16th Graduate meeting of Evolutionary Biology of the DZG, Bielefeld, Germany
Thoß, M., Ilmonen, P., Musolf, K. & Penn, D. (2009): Heterozygosity and sexual selection in wild house mice. Central European Meeting on Mouse Epigenetics, Nové Hrady, Czech Republic.
Thoß, M., Ilmonen, P., Musolf, K. & Penn, D. (2009): ’Good genes as heterozygosity’: Does male heterozygosity predict mating success? European Meeting of PhD students in Evolutionary Biology, Schoorl, The Netherlands.
Thoß, M., Stundner, G., Ilmonen, P. & Penn, D. (2008): Role of inbreeding and infection in mate choice of wild female mice. Central European Meeting on Mouse Epigenetics, Nové Hrady, Czech Republic.
Thoß, M., Stundner, G., Ilmonen, P. & Penn, D. (2008): Role of inbreeding and infection in mate choice of wild female mice. European Meeting of PhD students in Evolutionary Biology, Einsiedeln, Switzerland.