Nicole Gruenheit


I joined the Thompson lab in early 2012 and am currently working on a comparative genomics study using 40 different D. discoideum strains, which exhibit markedly different ‘traits’ during growth and development. The comparison of the genomic sequence of all genes will elucidate how many and which genes are connected to these traits.

Apart from this, I am also working on various transcriptome studies, which entail comparisons of knock-out mutants to wild type as well as differences between stages in development and cell types also focussing on potential antisense regulation of specific genes.

From 2010 to 2012 I worked in Professor Peter Lockhart’s lab in Palmerston North, New Zealand. There I was involved in the assembly and analysis of EST libraries of two species from the allopolyploid plant genus Pachycladon, which is endemic to New Zealand and parts of Australia. Using different sequencing methods, these EST libraries then enabled us to find differential expression of genes important for adaptation to e.g. growth in different altitudes. Part of this work resulted in the important observation that hybridisation increases the adaptive potential of species and can therefore be crucial to their adaptation to climate change.

Between 2006 and 2010 I was a PhD student in Professor William Martin‘s lab in Duesseldorf, Germany. My thesis was entitled ‘Clusteranalysis and phylogenomics of eukaryotic genes of prokaryotic originand focussed on determining the most likely ancestor of primary and secondary plastids using all protein sequences of 710 fully sequenced eukaryotes and bacteria.

ResearcherID: E-8718-2011




Voelckel C, Gruenheit N, Lockhart P. 2017 Mar. Evolutionary Transcriptomics and Proteomics: Insight into Plant Adaptation. Trends Plant Sci. [accessed 2017 Apr 3].

Gruenheit N, Parkinson K, Stewart B, Howie JA, Wolf JB, Thompson CRL. A polychromatic ‘greenbeard’ locus determines patterns of cooperation in a social amoeba. Nat. Commun. 8:14171.


Marshall CW, Chagné D, Deusch O, Gruenheit N, McCallum J, Bergin D, Lockhart PJ, Wilcox PL. 2015. A DNA-based diagnostic for differentiating among New Zealand endemic Podocarpus. Tree Genet. Genomes 11:69.

Wolf JB, Howie J a, Parkinson K, Gruenheit N, Melo D, Rozen D, Thompson CRL. 2015. Fitness Trade-offs Result in the Illusion of Social SuccessCurrent Biology, 25(8):1086-90. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.02.061


Parkinson K, Baines AE, Keller T, Gruenheit N, Bragg L, North RA, Thompson CRL (2014). Calcium-dependent regulation of Rab activation and vesicle fusion by an intracellular P2X ion channel. Nature Cell Biology, 15(1), 1–13. doi:10.1038/ncb2887


Becker M, Gruenheit N, Steel M, Voelckel C, Deusch O, Heenan PB, Lockhart PJ (2013). Hybridization may facilitate in situ survival of endemic species through periods of climate change. Nature Climate Change, 3(11), 1–5. doi:10.1038/nclimate2027


Gruenheit N, Deusch O, Esser C, Becker M, Voelckel C, Lockhart P: Cutoffs and k-mers: Implications from a transcriptome study in allopolyploid plantsBMC Genomics 2012, 13:92.

Voelckel C, Gruenheit N, Biggs P, Deusch O, Lockhart P: Chips and tags suggest plant-environment interactions differ for two alpine Pachycladon species. BMC Genomics 2012, 13:322


Bolte K, Gruenheit N, Felsner G, Sommer MS, Maier U-G, Hempel F: Making new out of old: recycling and modification of an ancient protein-translocation system during eukaryotic evolution. BioEssays 2011, 33:368-376.

Felsner G, Sommer MS, Gruenheit N, Hempel F, Moog D, Zauner S, Martin W, Maier UG: ERAD components in organisms with complex red plastids suggest recruitment of a preexisting protein transport pathway for the periplastid membraneGenome Biol Evol 2011, 3:140-150.


Ahmadinejad N, Dagan T, Gruenheit N, Martin W, Gabaldon T: Evolution of spliceosomal introns following endosymbiotic gene transferBMC Evol Biol 2010, 10:57.


Bolte K, Kawach O, Prechtl J, Gruenheit N, Nyalwidhe J, Maier UG: Complementation of a phycocyanin-bilin lyase from Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 with a nucleomorph-encoded open reading frame from the cryptophyte Guillardia theta. BMC Plant Biol 2008, 8:56.

Deusch O, Landan G, Roettger M, Gruenheit N, Kowallik KV, Allen JF, Martin W, Dagan T: Genes of cyanobacterial origin in plant nuclear genomes point to a heterocyst-forming plastid ancestor. Mol Biol Evol 2008, 25:748-761.

Gruenheit N, Lockhart PJ, Steel M, Martin W: Difficulties in testing for covarion-like properties of sequences under the confounding influence of changing proportions of variable sites. Mol Biol Evol 2008, 25:1512-1520.


Huang CY, Grunheit N, Ahmadinejad N, Timmis JN, Martin W: Mutational decay and age of chloroplast and mitochondrial genomes transferred recently to angiosperm nuclear chromosomesPlant Physiol 2005, 138:1723-1733.

Martin W, Deusch O, Stawski N, Grünheit N, Goremykin V: Chloroplast genome phylogenetics: why we need independent approaches to plant molecular evolutionTrends Plant Sci 2005, 10:203-209.