Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg


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Pina Brinker


Pina Brinker

Raum 6.11.0
Hoher weg 8
06120 Halle (Saale)

My interest in science is centred on microbe-microbe and host-microbe interactions and how these interactions affect host phenotypes. Over the first years of my scientific career, I started investigating microbe-host interactions focusing on symbiont-host interactions involving the ant Lasius fuliginosus and symbiotic fungi used in nest building (Brinker et al. 2019   ). During my PhD, I then moved on to investigate how microbe-microbe interactions influence and shape symbiont-induced phenotypes in the system of the parasitic wasp Asobara japonica and the endosymbiont Wolbachia, causing asexual reproduction (   ). Especially the latter thought me that the way microbes affect a host can be highly depend on microbe-microbe interactions (Brinker et al. 2019   ).

tripartite interaction

tripartite interaction

tripartite interaction

The gut microbiota dimension of honeybee viral spill-over to wild pollinators

To further deepen my understanding of the importance of microbe-microbe interactions for the ecology, evolution and phenotype of a host, I recently started a post-doc project in which I will investigate the bacterial community's role in bumblebees affected by viral spillover from honeybees.

Together with Simon Tragust and in collaboration with Robert Paxton, and Oliver Schweiger    , I will investigate if the bacterial community can provide protection against the virus, similar to what has been found in honeybees (Dosch et al., 2021). Next, the project will try to target bacterial players underlying these effects. And finally, we want to see how environmental stressors, such as agrochemicals, will influence these interactions. The project is funded by the state Saxony-Anhalt to support integrative Biodiversity Research between the Martin-Luther University Halle Wittenberg and the Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, iDiv    (MLU|BioDivFund).

Future students

I'm always looking forward to working with students and helping them to develop their scientific potential further. So, please contact me if you are interested in doing a project with me. I am happy to discuss ideas within the framework of my project or propose existing projects to you that we can develop further together. Supervision is in German or English.


Streicher, T., Brinker, P., Tragust, S. and Paxton, R. J. (2024) Host Barriers Limit Viral Spread in a Spillover Host: A Study of Deformed Wing Virus in the Bumblebee Bombus terrestris. Viruses 16(4): 607. DOI: 10.3390/v16040607   

Brinker, P., Chen, F., Chehida, Y. B., Beukeboom, L. W., Fontaine, M. C., & Salles, J. F. (2022). Microbiome composition is shaped by geography and population structure in the parasitic wasp Asobara japonica, but not in the presence of the endosymbiont Wolbachia. Molecular Ecology, 00, 115.   

Tragust, S., Brinker, P., Rossel, N., & Otti, O. (2020). Balancing life history investment decisions in founding ant queens. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 8, 76.   

Brinker, P., Fontaine, M. C., Beukeboom, L. W., & Salles, J. F. (2019). Host, symbionts, and the microbiome: the missing tripartite interaction. Trends in Microbiology, 27(6), 480-488.   

Brinker, P., Weig, A., Rambold, G., Feldhaar, H., & Tragust, S. (2019). Microbial community composition of nest-carton and adjoining soil of the ant Lasius fuliginosus and the role of host secretions in structuring microbial communities. Fungal Ecology, 38, 44-53.   


Invited talk at the MiVEGEC    Seminar (16/02/23) with the title:

"Complex intercations in a host-symbiont-microbiome triangle : The wasp Asobara japonica, the endosymbiont Wolbachia and the remainder microbiome"

Interview with Science    on how squash bug young locate a critical bacterium, a recent publication in Current Biology. (2023)

Available scripts & Data

Scripts/Data t   o the publication: Microbiome composition is shaped by geography and population structure in the parasitic wasp Asobara japonica, but not in the presence of the endosymbiont Wolbachia

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