LOEWE Center for
Insect Biotechnology
& Bioresources

Georg Petschenka

Dr. rer. nat.

group leader

Phone: +49 641 99-37603

Email: Georg.P.Petschenka@agrar.uni-giessen.de

Room: B332

Building: IFZ


since 2017 Emmy Noether and LOEWE research group leader
since 2015 Postdoc at the Institute for Insect Biotechnology, University of Giessen
2012–2015 Postdoc in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, USA
2010–2012 Postdoc at the University of Hamburg, Molecular Evolutionary Biology Group
2006–2010 PhD at the University of Hamburg, Molecular Evolutionary Biology Group
2005–2006 Research internship State Museum of Natural History Karlsruhe
2002–2005 Diploma in Biology (equivalent to MSc), University of Bayreuth
1999–2002 undergraduate studies in biology and intermediate diploma, University of Tübingen

Awards and Grants

2016 Emmy Noether-Program German Research Foundation (DFG)
2016 International Society of Chemical Ecology Early Career Award
2015 Return Grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG)
2014 Travel grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
2012–2015 Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG)
2008 Travel grant from the German National Academic Foundation
2006–2009 Ph.D. Scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation

Research Interests

Evolution and mechanisms of insect resistance to plant toxins. – Link


Jones PL, Petschenka G, Flacht L, Agrawal AA (2019) Cardenolide intake, sequestration, and excretion by the monarch butterfly along gradients of plant toxicity and larval ontogeny. Journal of Chemical Ecology , 45 , 264-277.
Taverner AM, Yang L, Barile ZJ, Lin B, Peng J, Pinharanda A, Rao AS, Roland BP, Talsma AD, Wei D, Petschenka G, Palladino MJ, Andolfatto P (in press) (2019) Adaptive substitutions underlying cardiac glycoside insensitivity in insects exhibit epistasis in vivo. eLife, 8:e48224 doi: 10.7554/eLife.48224
Züst T, Petschenka G, Hastings AP, Agrawal AA (2019) Toxicity of milkweed leaves and latex: chromatographic quantification versus biological activity of cardenolides in 16 Asclepias species. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 45 , 50-60.
Mohammadi S, Petschenka G, French SS, Mori A, Savitzky AH (2018) Snakes exhibit tissue-specific variation in cardiotonic steroid sensitivity of Na+/K+-ATPase. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 217 , 21-26.
Petschenka G, Fei CS, Araya JJ, Schröder S, Timmermann BN, Agrawal AA (2018) Structure-activity relationships for plant cardiac glycosides on insect Na+/K+-ATPases: implications for monarch-milkweed coevolution. Frontiers in Plant Science,
Petschenka G, Wagschal V, von Tschirnhaus M, Donath A, Dobler S (2017) Convergently evolved toxic secondary metabolites in plants drive the parallel molecular evolution of insect resistance. The American Naturalist, 190 (S1) , S29-43.
Petschenka G, Agrawal AA (2016) How herbivores coopt plant defenses: Natural selection, specialization, and sequestration. Current Opinion in Insect Science, 14 , 17–24.
Bramer C, Dobler S, Deckert J, Stemmer M, Petschenka G (2015) Na+/K+-ATPase resistance and cardenolide sequestration: basal adaptations to host plant toxins in the milkweed bugs (Hemiptera: Lygaeidae: Lygaeinae) Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 282 (1805) , 1–9.
Dobler S, Petschenka G, Wagschal V, Flacht L (2015) Convergent adaptive evolution – how insects master the challenge of cardiac glycoside-containing host plants Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 157 (1) , 30–39.
Petschenka G, Agrawal AA (2015) Milkweed butterfly resistance to plant toxins is linked to sequestration, not coping with a toxic diet. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 282 (1818) , 1–9.
Mebs D, Petschenka G, Pogoda W, Toennes SW, Amendt J, Zajac BK, Dobler S (2014) Amphibian myiasis. Blowfly larvae (Lucilia bufonivora, Diptera: Calliphoridae) coping with the poisonous skin secretion of the common toad (Bufo bufo). Chemoecology, 24 (4) , 159–164.
Petschenka G, Fandrich S, Sander N, Wagschal V, Boppré M, Dobler S (2013) Stepwise evolution of resistance to toxic cardenolides via genetic substitutions in the Na+/K+-ATPase of milkweed butterflies (Lepidoptera: Danaini). Evolution, 67 (9) , 2753–2761.
Petschenka G, Pick C, Wagschal V, Dobler S (2013) Functional evidence for physiological mechanisms to circumvent neurotoxicity of cardenolides in an adapted and a non-adapted hawk-moth species. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 280 (1759) , 1–9.
Agrawal AA, Petschenka G, Bingham RA, Weber MG, Rasmann S (2012) Toxic cardenolides: chemical ecology and coevolution of specialized plant-herbivore interactions. New Phytologist, 194 (1) , 28–45.
Petschenka G, Offe JK, Dobler S (2012) Physiological screening for target site insensitivity and localization of Na+/K+-ATPase in cardenolide-adapted Lepidoptera. Journal of Insect Physiology, 58 (5) , 607–612.
Dobler S, Petschenka G, Pankoke H (2011) Coping with toxic plant compounds – The insect’s perspective on iridoid glycosides and cardenolides Phytochemistry, 72 (13) , 1593–1604.
Petschenka G, Bramer C, Pankoke H, Dobler S (2011) Evidence for a deterrent effect of cardenolides on Nephila spiders. Basic and Applied Ecology, 12 (3) , 260–267.
Sehlmeyer S, Wang L, Langel D, Heckel DG, Mohagheghi H, Petschenka G, Ober D. (2010) Flavin-dependent monooxygenases as a detoxification mechanism in insects: new insights from the arctiids (lepidoptera). PLoS One, 5 (5) , 1–10.
Petschenka G, Dobler S (2009) Target-site sensitivity in a specialized herbivore towards major toxic compounds of its host plant: the Na+K+-ATPase of the oleander hawk moth (Daphnis nerii) is highly susceptible to cardenolides Chemoecology, 19 (4) , 235–239.
Petschenka G (2006) On the Morphology of Bittacus hageni BRAUER, 1860 and Bittacus italicus (MÜLLER, 1766) (Mecoptera: Bittacidae). Entomologische Zeitschrift, 116 , 124–126.
Petschenka G, Tavakoli M, Trusch R (2006) Description of the unknown female of Agriopis beschkovi Ganev, 1987 (Geometridae: Ennominae), and illustration of the larvae. Nota Lepidopterologica , 29 (1/2) , 27–35.
Petschenka G (2003) Erstfund von Eratophyes amasiella (Herrich-Schäffer, 1855) in Baden Württemberg (Lep., Oecophoridae). Melanargia, 15 , 18!3–18$.