Dr Alexander Weinhold


Research focus


My research focuses on plant-herbivore interactions as well as the interactions within plant communities. Since many of these interactions are mediated by chemical compounds, I am aiming to understand these interactions through the analysis of aboveground (volatile organic compounds VOCs and leaf secondary metabolites) and belowground (VOCs and exudates) plant chemicals.

VOCs play an important role in the interactions of plants with other plants, herbivores or microbes. They can have defensive functions but can also be used for host finding and as stress signals. By analyzing the VOC composition of plants challenged by either biotic or abiotic stresses, I aim to get a better understanding of the role VOCs play in those interactions and how they are involved in the emergence and maintenance of biodiversity.

Belowground and in particular rhizosphere chemicals, or metabolites, can be of different origins. They can be produced by soil biota, exuded by plant roots or leached from litter. Root exudates and litter leachates in turn can affect soil biota and alter the composition of microbial communities. The exact nature of the compounds involved in belowground signaling is mostly unknown. That is why I am using untargeted metabolomics analyses to provide a better understanding how plant metabolites are shaping interactions and biodiversity in the soil.





Metabolomics, secondary metabolites, plant volatiles, root exudates, root volatiles, plant-herbivore interactions, ecometabolomics

Current projects


Associated PostDoc in CRC AquaDiva (SFB 1076) - B01: "Composition of Tree-derived Organic Matter and Its Effect on Subsurface Microbial Processes: Feedback to Plants and Nutrient Cycling".

Researcher in the International Research Training Group TreeDì (GRK 2324): "Tree Diversity Interactions: The role of tree-tree interactions in local neighbourhoods in Chinese subtropical forests".

Co-PI in the Leibniz Competition project VolCorn: "Volatilome of a Cereal Crop-Microbiota System under Drought & Flooding".

Short CV


December 2014 – Now

PostDoc at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) in the group of Nicole van Dam.

April 2013 – December 2014

PostDoc at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, Institute for Reference
Materials and Measurements in Geel, Belgium, working on the authentication of olive oils and wines by means of HPLC-MS and GC-MS combined with metabolomics.

June 2012 – March 2013

PostDoc in the Group of Phyllis Coley and Thomas Kursar at the Biology Department of the University of Utah, working on deciphering the chemical diversity of the tropical tree genus Inga by means of UPLC-qToFMS.

2008 - 2012

PhD student/ Dissertation at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in the group of Prof. Dr. Ian T. Baldwin on the topic “Understanding the role of trichomes in plant-herbivore interactions”. 

2007 - 2008

Diploma/Master thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in the group of Prof. Dr. Ian T. Baldwin on "Multivariate analysis of volatile emissions from wild tobacco Nicotiana attenuata using GCxGC-ToFMS" co-supervised by Professors Dr. Ian T. Baldwin and Dr. Georg Pohnert (Institute of Analytical Chemistry, Friedrich Schiller University Jena).

Selected Publications


Endara, M.-J., Weinhold, A., Cox, J. E., Wiggins, N. L., Coley, P. D., Kursar, T. A. (2015), Divergent evolution in antiherbivore defences within species complexes at a single Amazonian site. Journal of Ecology, 103: 1107–1118. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12431

Weinhold, A.; Baldwin, I. T. (2011). Trichome-derived O-acyl sugars are a first meal for caterpillars that tags them for predation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(19), 7855-7859. doi:10.1073/pnas.1101306108

Stork, W. F. J.; Weinhold, A.; Baldwin, I.T.  (2011). Trichomes as dangerous lollipops: do lizards also use caterpillar body and frass odor to optimize their foraging? Plant Signaling & Behavior, Volume 6 Issue 12 1893-1896 doi:10.4161/psb.6.12.18028

Weinhold, A.; Shaker, K.; Wenzler, M.; Schneider, B.; Baldwin, I.T. (2011). Phaseoloidin, a homogentisic acid glucoside from Nicotiana attenuata trichomes, contributes to the plant’s resistance against Lepidopteran herbivores. Journal of Chemical Ecology, Volume 37 1091-1098 doi:10.1007/s10886-011-0012-7

Gaquerel, E.; Weinhold, A.; Baldwin, I. T. (2009). Molecular interactions between the specialist herbivore Manduca sexta (Lepidoptera, Sphigidae) and its natural host Nicotiana attenuata. VIII. An unbiased GCxGC-ToFMS analysis of the plant´s elicited volatile emissions. Plant Physiology, 149(3), 1408-1423. doi:10.1104/pp.108.130799

iDiv publications


Steinauer, K., Thakur, M. P., Emilia Hannula, S., Weinhold, A., Uthe, H., van Dam, N. M., Martijn Bezemer, T.

(2023): Root exudates and rhizosphere microbiomes jointly determine temporal shifts in plant-soil feedbacks. Plant, Cell & Environment

Mäntylä, E., Jorge, L. R., Koane, B., Sam, K., Segar, S. T., Volf, M., Weinhold, A. and Novotny, V.

(2022): Ficus trees with upregulated or downregulated defence did not impact predation on their neighbours in a tropical rainforest. Arthropod-Plant Interactions

Sontowski, R., Guyomar, C., Poeschl, Y., Weinhold, A., van Dam, N. M. and Vassão, D. G.

(2022): Mechanisms of Isothiocyanate Detoxification in Larvae of Two Belowground Herbivores, Delia radicum and D. floralis (Diptera: Anthomyiidae). Frontiers in Physiology

Ristok, C., Weinhold, A., Ciobanu, M., Poeschl, Y., Roscher, C., Vergara, F., Eisenhauer, N., van Dam, N. M.

(2022): Plant diversity effects on herbivory are related to soil biodiversity and plant chemistry. Journal of Ecology

Jurburg, S. D., Buscot, F., Chatzinotas, A., Chaudhari, N. M., Clark, A. T., Garbowski, M., Grenié, M., Hom, E. F. Y., Karakoç, C., Marr, S., Neumann, S., Tarkka, M., van Dam, N. M., Weinhold, A., Heintz-Buschart, A.

(2022): The community ecology perspective of omics data. Microbiome

Potthast, K., Tischer, A., Herrmann, M., Weinhold, A., Küsel, K., van Dam, N. M. and Michalzik, B.

(2022): Woolly beech aphid infestation reduces soil organic carbon availability and alters phyllosphere and rhizosphere bacterial microbiomes. Plant and Soil

Volf, M., Volfová, T., Seifert, C. L., Ludwig, A., Engelmann, R. A., Jorge, L. R., Richter, R., Schedl, A., Weinhold, A., Wirth, C. and van Dam, N. M.

(2021): A mosaic of induced and non-induced branches promotes variation in leaf traits, predation and insect herbivore assemblages in canopy trees. Ecology Letters

Papantoniou, D., Vergara, F., Weinhold, A., Quijano, T., Khakimov, B., Pattison, D. I., Bak, S., van Dam, N. M. and Martinez-Medina, A.

(2021): Cascading Effects of Root Microbial Symbiosis on the Development and Metabolome of the Insect Herbivore Manduca sexta L. Metabolites

Uthe, H., van Dam, N. M., Hervé, M. R., Sorokina, M., Peters, K. and Weinhold, A.

(2021): Chapter Six - A practical guide to implementing metabolomics in plant ecology and biodiversity research. In: Pétriacq, Pierre, Bouchereau, Alain (Eds.) Advances in Botanical Research Academic Press

Martínez-Medina, A., Mbaluto, C. M., Maedicke, A., Weinhold, A., Vergara, F., van Dam, N. M.

(2021): Leaf herbivory counteracts nematode-triggered repression of jasmonate-related defenses in tomato roots. Plant Physiology

Trogisch, S., Liu, X., Rutten, G., Xue, K., Bauhus, J., Brose, U., Bu, W., Cesarz, S., Chesters, D., Connolly, J., Cui, X., Eisenhauer, N., Guo, L., Haider, S., Härdtle, W., Kunz, M., Liu, L., Ma, Z., Neumann, S., Sang, W., Schuldt, A., Tang, Z., van Dam, N. M., von Oheimb, G., Wang, M.-Q., Wang, S., Weinhold, A., Wirth, C., Wubet, T., Xu, X., Yang, B., Zhang, N., Zhu, C.-D., Ma, K., Wang, Y. and Bruelheide, H.

(2021): The significance of tree-tree interactions for forest ecosystem functioning. Basic and Applied Ecology

Weinhold, A., Döll, S., Liu, M., Schedl, A., Pöschl, Y., Xu, X., Neumann, S. and van Dam, N. M.

(2021): Tree species richness differentially affects the chemical composition of leaves, roots and root exudates in four subtropical tree species. Journal of Ecology

D. Tholl, O. Hossain, A. Weinhold, U. S. R. Röse, Q. Wei

(2021): Trends and applications in plant volatile sampling and analysis. The Plant Journal

Delory, B. M., H. Schempp, S. M. Spachmann, L. Störzer, N. M. van Dam, V. M. Temperton, A. Weinhold

(2021): Soil chemical legacies trigger species-specific and context-dependent root responses in later arriving plants. Plant, Cell & Environment

K. Sam, E. Kovarova, I. Freiberga, H. Uthe, A. Weinhold, L. R. Jorge, R. Sreekar

(2021): Great tits (Parus major) flexibly learn that herbivore-induced plant volatiles indicate prey location: An experimental evidence with two tree species. Ecology and Evolution

Calf, O. W., Lortzing, T., Weinhold, A., Poeschl, Y., Peters, J. L., Huber, H., Steppuhn, A., van Dam, N. M.

(2020): Slug Feeding Triggers Dynamic Metabolomic and Transcriptomic Responses Leading to Induced Resistance in Solanum dulcamara. Frontiers in Plant Science

Klimm, S. F., Weinhold, A., Volf, M.

(2020): Volatile production differs between oak leaves infested by leaf-miner Phyllonorycter harrisella (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae) and galler Neuroterus quercusbaccarum (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae). EJE

Volf, M., A. Weinhold, C. L. Seifert, T. Holicová, H. Uthe, E. Alander, R. Richter, J.-P. Salminen, C. Wirth, N. M. van Dam

(2020): Branch-Localized Induction Promotes Efficacy of Volatile Defences and Herbivore Predation in Trees. Journal of Chemical Ecology

Calf, O. W., Huber, H., Peters, J. L., Weinhold, A., Poeschl, Y., van Dam, N. M.

(2019): Gastropods and Insects Prefer Different Solanum dulcamara Chemotypes. Journal of Chemical Ecology

Huang, J., Hammerbacher, A., Weinhold, A., Reichelt, M., Gleixner, G., Behrendt, T., van Dam, N. M., Sala, A., Gershenzon, J., Trumbore, S., Hartmann, H.

(2019): Eyes on the future – evidence for trade-offs between growth, storage and defense in Norway spruce. New Phytologist

Ristok, C., Poeschl, Y., Dudenhöffer, J.-H., Ebeling, A., Eisenhauer, N., Vergara, F., Wagg, C., van Dam, N. M., Weinhold, A.

(2019): Plant species richness elicits changes in the metabolome of grassland species via soil biotic legacy. Journal of Ecology

Calf, O. W., Huber, H., Peters, J. L., Weinhold, A., van Dam, N. M.

(2018): Glycoalkaloid composition explains variation in slug resistance in Solanum dulcamara. Oecologia

Huang, J., Hartmann, H., Hellén, H., Wisthaler, A., Perreca, E., Weinhold, A., Rücker, A., van Dam, N. M., Gershenzon, J., Trumbore, S. E., Behrendt, T.

(2018): New perspectives on CO2, temperature and light effects on BVOC emissions using online measurements by PTR-MS and cavity ring-down spectroscopy. Environmental Science & Technology

Pappas, M. L., Liapoura, M., Papantoniou, D., Avramidou, M., Kavroulakis, N., Weinhold, A., Broufas, G. D., Papadopoulou, K. K.

(2018): The Beneficial Endophytic Fungus Fusarium solani Strain K Alters Tomato Responses Against Spider Mites to the Benefit of the Plant. Frontiers in Plant Science

Peters, K., Worrich, A., Weinhold, A., Alka, O., Balcke, G., Birkemeyer, C., Bruelheide, H., Calf, O. W., Dietz, S., Duhrkop, K., Gaquerel, E., Heinig, U., Kucklich, M., Macel, M., Muller, C., Poeschl, Y., Pohnert, G., Ristok, C., Rodriguez, V. M., Ruttkies, C., Schuman, M., Schweiger, R., Shahaf, N., Steinbeck, C., Tortosa, M., Treutler, H., Ueberschaar, N., Velasco, P., Weiss, B. M., Widdig, A., Neumann, S., van Dam, N. M.

(2018): Current Challenges in Plant Eco-Metabolomics. International Journal of Molecular Sciences

Luu, V. T., Weinhold, A., Ullah, C., Dressel, S., Schoettner, M., Gase, K., Gaquerel, E., Xu, S., Baldwin, I. T.

(2017): O-acyl sugars protect a wild tobacco from both native fungal pathogens and a specialist herbivore. Plant Physiology

Bixenmann, R. J., Coley, P. D., Weinhold, A., Kursar, T. A.

(2016): High herbivore pressure favors constitutive over induced defense. Ecology and Evolution

van Dam, N. M., Weinhold, A., Garbeva, P.

(2016): Calling in the Dark: The Role of Volatiles for Communication in the Rhizosphere. In: Blande, D. J., Glinwood, R. (Eds.) Deciphering Chemical Language of Plant Communication Springer International Publishing
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Friedrich Schiller University Jena

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