Dr Alexandra Weyrich

Postdoctoral Researcher

Scientific Profile


As molecular biologist, I focus on wildlife epigenetics aiming to understand how wild species adapt to environmental challenges on a molecular level. Epigenetic changes function as flexible mechanisms that increase a species' adaptability to environmental changes. Epigenetic modifications regulate gene expression and increases phenotypic variability. Patterns are set within a lifespan and can be inherited to subsequent generations, with potential importance in evolutionary processes. My main research interest is to understand the role of these epigenetic mechanisms in wild species adaptability. I have been focusing on changes in DNA methylation in response to changing environments such as temperature, diet, soil, captivity, social status and male reproduction tactics in several animal species (incl. wild guinea pig, spotted hyena, cheetah, Spalax, round goby, fruit fly). Within my current sDiv project, I aim to gain a general understanding of epigenetic patterns across species, working in collaboration with Dr. Walter Durka (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ, Halle, Germany), Prof. Christina Richards (University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany; and University of South Florida, Tampa, USA) and an international network of scientists in the field of epigenetics.

Scientific Career


2022 – 2025

Principle investigator “Interspecies Epigenetics” at German Center of integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Funding DFG

2018 - 2022

Principle investigator Leibniz SAW Project “Epigenetic stability and plasticity of social environmental effects”, Dept. of Evolutionary Genetics, Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW)

Since 2018

Group Leader of the group “Wildlife Epigenetics” at the Dept. of Evolutionary Genetics, Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW)

Since 2015

Scientist and head of Epigenetic laboratory, Dept. of Evolutionary Genetics, Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), Epigenetic effects and gene expression in Wildlife

2011 - 2014

Post-doctoral fellow and Head of Epigenetic laboratory, Dept. of Evolutionary Genetics, Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), Funding SAW “Paternal epigenetic effects in Wild guinea pig”

2010 - 2011

Guest scientist and Lab assistant, Breeding Biology and Molecular Genetics, Dept. for Crop and Animal Sciences, Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany, Funding: German Science Foundation (DFG) “Glycogen, lactate and candidate gene expression studies of diverse muscles of Mus musculus”

2007 - 2009

Post-doctoral fellow, Evolutionary Genetics, Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW); “Immune gene expression in Pallid Atlantic Forest Rat (Delomys sublineatus)” (Funding: BMBF); “Seasonal gene expression changes of the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)” (Funding: DFG)

2004 – 2007

Doctor rerum naturalium, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, processed at the Chinese Academy of Biological Sciences, Shanghai, China, Funding: Max Planck Scholarship, Dissertation topic: “DNA methylation and histone modifications in the spermatogenesis of the fruit fly (Drosophila)”

2002 - 2003

Diploma, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany, processed at the Chinese Academy of Biological Sciences, Shanghai, China, Funding: Max Planck Scholarship, Thesis topic: “Expression of mammalian methylases in the male germ line of the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster)”

1998 - 2003

Diploma student in Biology, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany




Grunau C, Weyrich A (2023) “Explique moi l’épigénétique” Livre, “Epigenetique et Evolution”, Chap. 10, accepted

Weyrich A, Guerrero-Altamirano TP, Yasar S, CzirjákGA, Wachter B, Fickel J, First Steps towards the Development of Epigenetic Biomarkers in Female Cheetahs, Life 2022, 12(6), 920; https://doi.org/10.3390/life12060920.

Westbury MV, Le Duc D, Duchêne DA, Krishnan A, Prost S, Rutschmann S, Grau JH, Dalen L, Weyrich A, Norén K, Werdelin L, Dalerum F, Schöneberg T, Hofreiter M(2021) Ecological specialisation and evolutionary reticulation in extant Hyaenidae, Molecular Biology and Evolution, msab055, https://doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msab055

Li K#, Zhang S#, Song X#, Weyrich A#, Wang Y, Liu X, Wan N, lovy M, Cui H, Frenkel V, Titievsky A, Panov J, Brodsky L, Nevo E (2020) Genome evolution of blind subterranean mole rats: Adaptive peripatric versus sympatric speciation, #shared first author, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA Dec 22, 2020 117 (51) 32499-32508, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2018123117

Wahedi A, Günther A, Weyrich A, Sondheimer N (2020) The mitochondrial genome of Cavia aperea, Mitochondrial DNA Part B: Resources, 5:3, 2147-2148, DOI: 10.1080/23802359.2020.1768918

Weyrich A, Yasar S, Lenz D and Fickel J (2020) Tissue-specific epigenetic inheritance after paternal heat exposure in male Wild guinea pigs, invited to special issue in Mammalian Genome, Springer, https://rdcu.be/b3ytT

Guerrero TP, Fickel J, Benhaiem S, Weyrich A (2020) Epigenomics and gene regulation in mammalian social systems. Invited to special issue on “Social behavior and evolution in the omics era” in Current Zoology,https://doi.org/10.1093/cz/zoaa005

Al Klifeh E, Balard A, Jarquín-Diaz VH, Weyrich A, Wibbelt G, Heitlinger E (2019) Eimeria falciformis BayerHaberkorn1970 and novel wild derived isolates from house mice: differences in parasite lifecycle, pathogenicity and host immune reactions, BioRxiv, Preprint

Somerville V, Schwaiger M, Hirsch PE, Walser JC, Bussmann K, Weyrich A, Burkhardt-Holm P & Adrian-Kalchhauser I (2019) DNA methylation patterns in the round goby hypothalamus support an on-the-spot decision scenario for territorial behavior. Invited to special issue on “Epigenetics and Adaptation” in Genes 10(3), 219

Weyrich A, Lenz D and Fickel J (2019) Environmental change-dependent transgenerational epigenetic response. Invited to special issue on “Epigenetics and Adaptation” in Genes10(1), 4, doi: 10.3390/genes10010004

Weyrich A, Jeschek M, Schrapers KT, Lenz D, Chung TH, Rübensam K, Yasar S, Schneemann M, Ortmann S, Jewgenow K & Fickel J (2018) Diet changes alter paternally inherited epigenetic pattern in male wild guinea pigs. Invited to Environmental epigenetics, 4(2), dvy011

Weyrich A, Benz S, Karl S, Jeschek M, Jewgenow K, Fickel J (2016) Paternal heat exposure causes DNA methylation and gene expression changes of Stat3 in wild guinea pig sons. Ecology and Evolution, doi: 10.1002/ece3.1993

Weyrich A, Lenz D, Jeschek M, Chung TH, Rübensam K, Göritz K, Jewgenow, K, Fickel J (2016) Paternal intergenerational epigenetic response to heat exposure in male wild guinea. Invited to special issue on “Epigenetic Studies in Ecology and Evolution” in Molecular Ecology, doi: 10.1111/mec.13494

Weyrich A, Schüllermann T, Heeger F, Jeschek M, Mazzoni CJ, Chen W, Schumann K, Fickel J (2014) Whole genome sequencing and methylome analysis of the wild guinea pig, BMC Genomics 15:1036, doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-15-1036

Hennig W and Weyrich A (2013) Histone Modifications in the Male Germ Line of Drosophila; BMC Developmental Biology 13:7, doi: 10.1186/1471-213X-13-7

Kärst S, Strucken EM, Schmitt AO, Weyrich A, de Villena FPM, Hyuna Yang, Brockmann GA (2013) Effect of the myostatin locus on muscle mass and intramuscular fat content in a cross between mouse lines selected for hypermuscularity, BMC Genomics 16;14(1):16, doi.org/10.1186/1471-2164-14-16

Weyrich A, Preparation of Genomic DNA from Mammalian Sperm. Curr Protoc Mol Biol. 2012; 2:2.13.1-3. doi: 10.1002/0471142727.mb0213s98

Fickel J and Weyrich A (2010) Female mate choice in rodents, in: Kaoru Hashimoto, From gene to animal behaviour, Springer-Verlag (Japan) 4(19), ISBN 978-4-431-53892-9

Weyrich A, Axtner J, Sommer S (2010) Selection and validation of reference genes for real-time RT-PCR studies in the non-model species Delomys sublineatus, a Brazilian rodent. Biochemistry and Biophysical Research Communications 392:145-149, doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2009.12.173

Weyrich A, Mahr JA, Jauernig O, Göritz F, Fritzenkötter A, Blottner S, Fickel J (2010), Seasonal changes of gene expression in roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) testis measured by expression microarray analysis, Trends in Animal & Veterinary Sciences Journal 1(2):49-64

Weyrich A, Tang X, Xu G, Schrattenholz A, Hunzinger C, Hennig W (2008) Mammalian DNMTs in the male germ line DNA of Drosophila. Biochemistry and Cell Biology 86(5):380-5, doi: 10.1139/o08-096


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Puschstrasse 4
04103 Leipzig

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+49 341 9733224
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Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin

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