Melanie Glaettli, Postdoctoral fellow

Melanie Glaettli, PhD

Currently at
Institute of Plant Sciences
University of Bern

Altenbergrain 21
CH-3013 Bern


Research Interests

I am fascinated by the diversity of mating systems in the plant kingdom, their evolution and especially their relationship with pollinators.

During my PhD I explored the evolution and maintenance of gynodioecy, a sexual system involving the joint occurrence of hermaphrodites and females within populations. I used the widely studied Silene vulgaris (Caryophyllaceae) as a model to assess and understand the role and magnitude of inbreeding depression as a force maintaining gynodioecy. Across two successive generations of cross- and self-fertilization, I found that in both generations inbreeding depression increased among successive life-cycle stages and that the sex ratio of progeny of selfed hermaphrodites was generally female-biased. Late acting inbreeding depression as well as female-biased sex ratios following self-fertilization are potential explanations for the maintenance of this complex sexual system since in these two cases purging of deleterious genes will be inefficient.

I am currently focusing on the relation between sexually dimorphic Sagittaria latifolia (Alismataceae) and its pollinators. Both, floral display and flower size are sexually dimorphic in S. latifolia and their effect on attractiveness to pollinators has not been explored, in detail. Moreover, a recent theoretical model of Vamosi & Otto (2002) investigating sexual dimorphism and its interplay with pollen limitation has shown that sexual dimorphism can evolve as long as pollen availability is large enough. Phenotypic differences for the attractiveness to pollinators could impede reproduction if pollinators only forage on the most attractive sex. This timely prediction will be addressed in field experiments manipulating both pollen availability and among-male variance in sexual dimorphism.

Vamosi, J. C. & Otto, S. P. (2002). When looks can kill: the evolution of sexually dimorphic floral display and the extinction of dioecious plants. Proceeding of the Royal Society of London (Serie B) 269: 1187-1194.


Glaettli, M., Pescatore, L. & Goudet, J. 2006. Population structure and proximity-dependent variation in pollen performance in gynodioecious Silene vulgaris. Annals of Botany 98:431-437

Glaettli, M. & Goudet, J. In Press. Variation in the intensity of inbreeding depression among successive life-cycle stages and generations in gynodioecious Silene vulgaris (Caryophyllaceae). Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

Glaettli, M. & Goudet, J. In Press. Inbreeding effects on progeny sex ratio and gender variation in the gynodioecious Silene vulgaris (Caryophyllaceae). New Phytologist.

Curriculum vitae

  2005 – Present Postdoctoral Fellow with Prof. S.C.H Barrett, Department of Botany, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2004 – 2005 Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
  2000 – 2004 Ph.D. with Prof. J. Goudet, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
“Mechanisms involved in the maintenance of inbreeding depression in gynodioecious Silene vulgaris (Caryophyllaceae): an experimental investigation”
  1998 – 1999 Master in Systematics and Biodiversity Management, CUSO, Switzerland.
“Consequences of bottlenecks and population growth on the different measures of genetic diversity”
  1996 – 1997 Exchange year at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland (Department of Plant & Soil Science).
  1994 – 1998 Studies in Biology at the University of Lausanne.
“Microsatellites & Allozymes: a study of metapopulation structure in the freshwater snail Physa acuta

Lectures and Posters

  Jan 2002 (invited) Institute of Environmental Sciences, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  Sep 2002 Breeding systems: evolutionary issues and novel approaches, La Fouly, Switzerland
  Feb 2003 Biology 03, Zurich, Switzerland (Poster)
  Feb 2003 Evolutionary ecology of the pre-zygotic stage in animals and plants, Ascona, Switzerland
  Jun 2003 Evolution 2003, Chico, California, USA
  Jan 2004 (invited) Institute of Environmental Sciences, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  Feb 2004 Biology 04, Fribourg, Switzerland
  Sep 2004

Silene-Microbotryum Meeting, Mountain Lake Biological Station, Virginia, USA

  June 2006

Evolution 2006, Stony Brook, USA

Grants and financial support

  2003 Swiss Zoological Society (to attend Evolution 2003 in Chico, California)

Société Académique Vaudoise


Hoffmann – LaRoche Research Foundation


Young Researcher Grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation


Bourse de perfectionnement , University of Lausanne

Teaching Activities

  2000 - 2005 Assistant teacher in statistics, experimental design, population demography, population genetics, systematic botany, marine biology (University of Lausanne, Switzerland).
  2000 – 2005 Lecturer in Conservation Biology (Ecole Professionnelle Commerciale de Nyon, Nyon, Switzerland)
  2004 Lecturer in Statistics (Ecole de La Source, Lausanne, Switzerland)
  2005 Lecturer in Ecology (Ecole de Laborantine en Biologie et Médecine, Lausanne, Switzerland)

Reviewer for : Journal of Evolutionary Biology


Soldier beetle Chaulignathus pennsylvanicus (Cantharidae)
on male Sagittaria latifolia (Alismataceae)

Wasp collecting pollen from a male Sagittaria latifolia (Alismataceae)

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