Research interests

My research interests are in the mechanisms of diversification and adaptation of rapidly evolving pathogens. Particularly, I focus on the role of host species dynamics in shaping the evolutionary history of specialized pathogens using phylogenetics, population genetic and genomic approaches.

In a natural system I am investigating the association between an RNA virus and its rodent reservoir host. Secondary contact hybrid zones between evolutionary host lineages form the center of my studies on the impact of host divergence on virus transmission dynamics and mechanisms of specialisation. Further, I aim to estimate time-spans of the association between two European hantaviruses and their rodent hosts using molecular sequence data combined with spatial information.

Curriculum vitae

2014- Ph.D. thesis in population genetics under supervision of PD Dr. Gerald Heckel, CMPG, University of Bern
2010-2014
Research Assistant at the Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern
2009-2012
Bachelor of Arts in Music, Hochschule der Künste, Bern
2007-2009
MSc in Molecular Life Sciences, Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern
2004-2007
BSc in Biology, University of Bern

Selected publications

Journal articles

  • Saxenhofer M, Weber de Melo V, Ulrich RG & Heckel G (2017) Revised time scales of RNA virus evolution based on spatial information. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 284: 20170857 [Abstract and pdf]
  • Drewes S, Sheikh Ali H, Saxenhofer M, Rosenfeld UM, Binder F, Cuypers F, Schlegel M, Röhrs S, Heckel G & Ulrich RG (2017) Host-associated absence of human Puumala virus infections in northern and eastern Germany. Emerging Infectious Diseases 23: 83-86 [Abstract and pdf]
  • Schmidt S, Saxenhofer M, Drewes S, Schlegel M, Wanka KM, Frank R, Klimpel S, Blanckenhagen F, Maaz D, Herden C, Freise J, Wolf R, Stubbe M, Borkenhagen P, Ansorge H, Eccard JA, Lang J, Jourdain E, Jacob J, Marianneau P, Heckel G & Ulrich RG (2016) High genetic structuring of Tula hantavirus. Archives of Virology 161: 1135-1149 [Abstract and pdf]