Plant Ecological Genetics

Our work aims at understanding the genetic basis of ecological and evolutionary processes. To achieve this goal, we combine the use of molecular methods with experiments in common gardens and in the field. Our main study organisms include the White and Red Campion (Silene latifolia and S. dioica), the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana, wild tomatoes (Solanum spp.) and grasses with their fungal symbionts.

Using the closely related species S. latifolia and S. dioica we investigate the ecological factors that contribute to reproductive isolation, the genomic composition of hybrids, and the ecological and evolutionary consequences of gene introgression. Of particular interest in this research is the role of sex chromosomes in adaptation and reproductive isolation.

With the model species Arabidopsis thaliana we investigate how plants adapt to extreme and changing environmental conditions in the Swiss Alps.


  • Plant adaptation
  • Reproductive isolation
  • Genetic diversity
  • Sex chromosome evolution


► Google Scholar:

  • Climate-induced range shifts drive adaptive response via spatio-temporal sieving of alleles
    H Luqman, D Wegmann, S Fior, A Widmer
    Nature Communications 14 (1), 1080, (2023), 10.1038/s41467-023-36631-9
  • A target capture approach for phylogenomic analyses at multiple evolutionary timescales in rosewoods (Dalbergia spp.) and the legume family (Fabaceae)
    Crameri, Simon; Fior, Simone; Zoller, Stefan; Widmer, Alex
    Molecular Ecology Resources  DOI  10.1111/1755-0998.13666  Early AccessJUN 2022
  • Taxonomic Studies on Malagasy Dalbergia (Fabaceae). III. Two New Species from Southeastern Madagascar and an Emended Description of the Rosewood Species Dalbergia maritima
    Crameri, Simon; Phillipson, Peter B.; Rakotonirina, Nivohenintsoa; Wilding, Nicholas; Andriamiarisoa, Roger Lala; et al.
    Systematic Botany DOI: 10.1600/036364422X16512564801614   APR-JUN 2022
  • Capacity of soil bacteria to reach the phyllosphere and convergence of floral communities despite soil microbiota variation
    Massoni, Julien; Bortfeld-Miller, Miriam; Widmer, Alex; Vorholt, Julia A.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America  10.1073/pnas.2100150118  OCT 12 2021
  • Neither connectivity nor genetic diversity matter in the conservation of a rare fern and a moss on insular erratic boulders
    Hepenstrick, Daniel; Zemp, Niklaus; Widmer, Alex; Holderegger, Rolf
    Conservation Genetics 10.1007/s10592-021-01414-6  NOV 2021
  • Introgression is widespread in the radiation of carnivorous Nepenthes pitcher plants
    Scharmann, Mathias; Wistuba, Andreas; Widmer, Alex
    Molecular Phylogenetics And Evolution 10.1016/j.ympev.2021.107214  OCT 2021
  • Developing a monitoring program of genetic diversity: what do stakeholders say?
    Parli, Rea; Lieberherr, Eva; Holderegger, Rolf; Gugerli, Felix; Widmer, Alex; et al.
    Conservation Genetics  10.1007/s10592-021-01379-6  OCT 2021
  • Identifying loci under selection via explicit demographic models
    Luqman, Hirzi; Widmer, Alex; Fior, Simone; Wegmann, Daniel
    Molecular Ecology Resources 10.1111/1755-0998.13415  NOV 2021
  • Dioecy Is Associated with High Genetic Diversity and Adaptation Rates in the Plant Genus Silene
    Muyle, Aline; Martin, Helene; Zemp, Niklaus; Mollion, Maeva; Gallina, Sophie; et al.
    Molecular Biology And Evolution 10.1093/molbev/msaa229  MAR 2021
Alex Widmer

Prof. Dr. Alex Widmer
ETH Zurich
Institute of Integrative Biology
8092 Zurich

Tel: +41 (0)44 632 21 74

Video on Plant Adaptation in the Alps

  • Functional genomics
  • Ultra-high throughput sequencing
  • Reciprocal transplant experiments