Microbiota and Symbiosis

Almost all animals and plants, from unicellular protists to mighty blue whales, are inhabited by diverse microbial communities. Those microbial lodgers have an immense capacity to affect host physiology, which creates the potential for entangling microbial fitness with the fitness of their living biological habitat. I study the resulting multilayered eco-evolutionary dynamics of microbial populations that happen to reside in other organisms, which are themselves part of a dynamic host population.

Host-Virus Coevolution

Viruses have major impacts on ecosystems across all scales. Besides being responsible for causing numerous diseases and the turnover of vast amounts of biomass globally, they can also help maintain diversity and facilitate horizontal gene transfer in microbial communities. I am interested in classical antagonistic coevolution where the virus plays a predator-like role, but also in the more subtle and potentially even beneficial effects viruses can have on their host populations.

Eco-Evolutionary Theory

While I usually aim to connect my theoretical work as directly as possible to empirical data, ideally working closely with experimental biologists, I also explore more abstract and conceptual models in ecology and evolution. This includes studying mathematical models from a dynamical systems point of view using analytical and numerical methods.

I am a researcher at the Department for Evolutionary Theory at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön. Before embarking on the adventure of an academic career I learned the art of programming at Bertelsmann AG and arvato Systems in Gütersloh. I studied in Osnabrück earning Diploma and PhD degrees in the Theoretical Systems Science group of Horst Malchow and then left the North German Plain to join Ivana Gudelj's group at the University of Exeter. After moving back to Germany I spent two years with the Ecology and Ecosystem Modelling Group of Ursula Gaedke at the University of Potsdam before arriving in Plön.
Besides my research I enjoy riding motorcycles, which is not only great fun, but in fact a very valuable experience: Motorcycles are great for their acceleration. Every physicist should learn to ride a motorcycle. It gives one a certain physical intuition. --Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski

  • since 2016
    Research Scientist
    Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön, Germany
  • 2014 - 2016
    Lecturer in Theoretical Ecology
    University of Potsdam, Germany
  • 2011 - 2014
    Associate Research Fellow
    Biosciences, University of Exeter, UK
  • 2011
    Dr. rer. nat. (PhD)
    University of Osnabrück, Germany
  • 2009
    Diploma in Applied Systems Science
    University of Osnabrück, Germany
  • 2000 - 2003
    Software Developer (Fachinformatiker)
    Bertelsmann AG, Gütersloh, Germany
  Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology       sieberyakyak.foo@evolbio.mpg.de       +49 (0)4522 763 579    


Bacteriophage can promote the emergence of physiologically sub-optimal host phenotypes

Preprint bioRxiv

H Schenk and M Sieber


Neutrality in the Metaorganism

PLoS Biology
17:e3000298 (2019)

M Sieber, L Pita, N Weiland-Bräuer, P Dirksen, J Wang, B Mortzfeld, S Franzenburg, RA Schmitz, JF Baines, S Fraune, U Hentschel, H Schulenburg, TCG Bosch and A Traulsen

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Functions of the microbiota for the physiology of animal metaorganisms

Journal of Innate Immunity
11:393-404 (2019)

D Esser, J Lange, G Marinos, M Sieber, L Best, D Prasse, J Bathia, M Rühlemann, K Boersch, C Jaspers and F Sommer

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One man's trash is another man's treasure - the effect of bacteria on phytoplankton-zooplankton interactions in chemostat systems

Limnology and Oceanography: Methods
16:629-639 (2018)

M Raatz, S Schälicke, M Sieber, A Wacker and U Gaedke

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Temperate phages as self-replicating weapons in bacterial competition

Journal of the Royal Society Interface
14:20170563 (2017)

X-Y Li, T Lachnit, S Fraune, TCG Bosch, A Traulsen and M Sieber

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Eco-evolutionary dynamics in a coevolving host-virus system

Ecology Letters
19:450-459 (2016)

J Frickel, M Sieber and L Becks

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Do-or-die life cycles and diverse post-infection resistance mechanisms limit the evolution of parasite host ranges

Ecology Letters
17:491-498 (2014)

M Sieber and I Gudelj

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Dispersal network structure and infection mechanism shape diversity in a coevolutionary bacteria-phage system

The ISME Journal
8:504-514 (2014)

M Sieber, M Robb, SE Forde and I Gudelj

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Disease-induced modification of prey competition in eco-epidemiological models

Ecological Complexity
18:74-82 (2014)

M Sieber, H Malchow and FM Hilker

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The hydra effect in predator-prey models

Journal of Mathematical Biology
64:341-360 (2012)

M Sieber and FM Hilker

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Prey, predators, parasites: intraguild predation or simpler community modules in disguise?

Journal of Animal Ecology
80:414-421 (2011)

M Sieber and FM Hilker

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Partial differential equations

In Modelling complex ecological dynamics
Jopp, Reuter and Breckling (Eds.).
Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg (2011)

M Sieber and H Malchow


Noise can prevent onset of chaos in spatiotemporal population dynamics

European Physical Journal B
78:253-264 (2010)

SV Petrovskii, A Morozov, H Malchow and M Sieber

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Oscillations vs. chaotic waves: Attractor selection in bistable stochastic reaction-diffusion systems

European Physical Journal Special Topics
187:95-99 (2010)

M Sieber and H Malchow

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Noise-induced suppression of periodic travelling waves in oscillatory reaction-diffusion systems

Proceedings of the Royal Society A
466:1903-1917 (2010)

M Sieber, H Malchow and SV Petrovskii.

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Constructive effects of environmental noise in an excitable prey-predator plankton system with infected prey

Ecological Complexity
4:223-233 (2007)

M Sieber, H Malchow and L Schimansky-Geier

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