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Mag. Dr. Michaela Thoß

Konrad-Lorenz-Institute of Ethology
Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution
University of Veterinarian Medicine Vienna
Savoyenstr. 1a
A-1160 Vienna
T +43 (1) 25077 7348
F +43 (1) 25077 94 7348
E-Mail to Michaela Thoß



Behavioral and Evolutionary Ecology in house mice- Chemical communication and quality signaling
- Sexual selection and fitness benefit
- Host pathogen interactions
Genetic- Genetic diversity at neutral and functional markers (microsatellites, Sanger and next generation sequencing)
Proteinbiochemistry- Major Urinary Proteins (MUPs) diversity and function (SDS-PAGE, IPG and 2D gels, mass spectrometry)
- Major Urinary Proteins (MUPs) ligands (SPME) 

Current Projects

Major Urinary Proteins: Re-examining the functions in chemosensory communication

Austrian Science Foundation (FWF) grant P24711-B21 (see also Vetdoc)
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. At the moment, I work as PostDoc funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) 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. I collaborate with the Institute of Biomedical Chemistry (Vetmed Vienna) to apply gel-based methods (1D, 2D) to study MUP diversity and with the proteomics group of the Vetcore facility to identify individual MUPs using latest mass spectrometry techniques. Finally, I’m involved in analyzing volatile compounds from house mouse urine using gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (GC-MS).

2. Fitness 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 Dr. K. Thonhauser to investigate whether multiple mating enhances pathogen tolerance and resistance.

3. MHC diversity and pathogen resistance

I’m also involved in a study developing next generation sequencing (NGS) techniques to investigate whether MHC allele diversity provides enhanced resistance and/or tolerance to infectious diseases

Curriculum Vitae

Education and Employment

October 2012 to present

Postdoctoral researcher at Konrad Lorenz Institute for  Ethology Vienna, Austria
FWF-funded project "MUPs: Re-examining the functions in chemosensory communication"

September 2011 to September 2012Research assistant at Konrad Lorenz Institute for  Ethology Vienna, Austria
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 2006Diploma student in biology at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany (specialization in Behaviour and Ecology, Genetics, and Nature Conservation)
June 2001High school graduation in Lichtenstein, Saxony, Germany
June 1983Born in Karl-Marx-Stadt, now Chemnitz, Saxony, Germany