Benjamin Claassen

Position: PhD student
Office: 116
Office phone: +49 4522763-197

Research interests

Current Project

Ancient plant genomics

The analysis of genetic material acquired from historical and prehistorical samples can not only tell us much about what organisms looked like centuries ago, it can also tell us a lot about their traits and diversity. Furthermore, it can also help us to better understand where the organisms we know today came from.

I am interested in the origins and diversity of crops in historical Europe and their evolution. Using modern molecular biology techniques as well as state of the art sequencing and computational methods, I am investigating samples of ancient DNA at the genomic level. In my studies I am focusing on agricultural significant crops such as Secale cereale and their associated fungal pathogens. I am specifically interested in the influence of domestication and plant-pathogen interactions on selection in these cultivars.

This project is part of the ROOTS Cluster of Excellence: Subcluster 2: Dietary ROOTS

Other projects

The diversity of yeast killer viruses in a natural population

Yeast killer viruses are double-stranded RNA viruses that infect several different species of yeast, including the baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
These viruses promote secretion of a toxin that kills nearby susceptible yeast cells, while granting immunity to their hosts. I am exploring the diversity of these viruses in a natural population of Saccharomyces paradoxus in northern Germany on the genomic level through sequencing of viral dsRNA, to learn more about the origins and diversity of these viruses.

Short CV

2020 – present             PhD student
Cluster of Excellence ROOTS at Kiel University,
MPI for Evolutionary Biology Plön

Exploring origins and diversity of crops in historic Europe using ancient DNA

2018 – 2020                 M. Sc. Biology
MPI for Evolutionary Biology Plön, Kiel University

Thesis: “Different evolutionary histories in a single cell – Double-stranded RNA viruses in yeast”
in Eva Stukenbrock’s lab

2014 – 2017                 B. Sc. Biology
Kiel University

Thesis: “Co-colonization of two members of Caenorhabditis elegans native microbiome” in Hinrich Schulenburg’s lab 

© Stukenbrock Lab 2018-2020