Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology

Max Lehenberger

PhD student

Phone: +49 931 31-86409
email: maximilian.lehenberger@uni-wuerzburg.de
Room: DK03

ORCID ID: 0000-0001-9097-9715
Scopus ID: 57203779482
Research Gate

Insect-Fungus Interactions Research Group

Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology
University of Würzburg
Am Hubland
97074 Würzburg


I am generally interested in the ecology and evolution of beetle-fungus mutualisms, especially in the symbiosis of bark- and ambrosia beetles with their fungal and bacterial associates. Currently I aim to investigate the specificity behind the bacterial induction of nutrient-rich fruiting structures in several fungal clades associated with ambrosia beetles and further test effects against other non-ambrosia fungi and fungal pathogens. Moreover, I aim to examine the physiology of fungal symbionts focusing on their beneficial capabilities (e.g. enzymatic activity, nutritional quality, defensive characteristics) within the beetle-fungus symbiosis and compare results of individual experiments with the phylogenetic distance between examined fungi.

Techniques I use: Field work (beetle collection), Fungal/bacterial isolation, various ways of culturing, DNA-extraction and sequencing, interaction-assays, bio-assays, enzymatic profiling, nutritional analysis and GC-MS.

Other research interests: chemical ecology, forest entomology and forest ecology

The specificity of ambrosial growth inducing bacteria

Test specificity of Pseudomonas fluorescens bacteria isolated from X. saxesenii for the induction of ambrosial growth in various ambrosia and non-ambrosia fungi.

Other non-bacterial triggers of ambrosial growth

Examine ambrosial growth induction across ambrosia fungi by factors like temperature, wounding, proline, fatty acids and beetles.

The defensive capabilities of ambrosia fungi

Conduct competitive assays with fungal competitors to discover, extract and identify antimicrobial compounds (volatile and non-volatile) excreted by ambrosia fungi.

The enzymatic and detoxifying capabilities of beetle associated fungi

Investigate the potential of ambrosia and non-ambrosia fungal symbionts of beetles to degrade the different wood polysaccharides and toxic compounds.

The nutritional quality of fungal symbionts

Characterize the nutritional content of mycelium and conidia (ambrosial growth) of fungal symbionts focusing on amino acids, fatty acids and sterols.

Examination on mycetangial secretions

Isolate the oily mycetangial secretions and identify the chemical composition.


02/2018 – present: PhD Student, Graduate School of Life Science, Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, Insect-Fungus Lab, Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg.

“Ecology and evolution of symbiotic microbial communities in fungus-farming ambrosia beetles”

Supervision by PD Dr. Peter Biedermann.

10/2015 – 11/2017: Master of Science in Forestry and Wood Science, Technical University of Munich, Germany.

“Ambrosia fungi associated with the bark beetle genus Trypodendron – Fungal isolation, identification and physiological characterization of their wood degrading potential including a morphological analysis of the spore-carrying organs in the beetles, the mycetangia”(Wood Research Munich, Wood-Bioprocesses, Supervisor: Prof.  Dr. J Philipp Benz, PD Dr. Peter Biedermann)

10/2011 – 02/2015: Bachelor of Science in Forest Science and Resource Management, Technical University of Munich

“Saisonalität einer Makrozoobenthos-Lebensgemeinschaft in einem stark Feinsediment belasteten Fließgewässer” (Chair of Aquatic Systems Biology, Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Geist)

Work experience

04/2017 – 09/2017:  Student Research Assistant at the Chair for Terrestrial Ecology (Technical University of Munich)

06/2016 – 08/2016:   Student Research Internship at the Chair of Zoology (Technical University of Munich)

05/2016 – 10/2016: Student Research Internship at the Chair of Wood Science (Wood-Bioprocesses, Technical University of Munich) in cooperation with the Max-Planck-Institute for Chemical Ecology

07/2016 – 09/2016: Student Research Assistant at the Chair of Zoology (Technical University of Munich)

05/2015 – 07/2015: Student Research Internship at the Chair of Aquatic Systems Biology (Technical University of Munich)

Reviewer activities

Publons: publons.com/a/1556763/


08/06/2018 – 10/06/2018: 10th Symposium on the Conservation of Saproxylic Beetles, Bavarian Forest National Park, St. Oswald

16/05/2018 – 20/06/2018: Workshop, Physalia courses, Berlin

“Metabarcoding of Microbial Communities”

13/03/2017 – 16/03/2017: Conference; Entomologentagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für allgemeine und angewandte Entomologie (DGAAE), Poster presentation, Freising

„Trypodendron domesticum und T. lineatum als potentielle Vektoren von xylobionten und saprobionten Pilzen“

Lehenberger, M., Biedermann, P. H., & Benz, J. P. (2018). Molecular identification and enzymatic profiling of Trypodendron (Curculionidae: Xyloterini) ambrosia beetle-associated fungi of the genus Phialophoropsis (Microascales: Ceratocystidaceae). Fungal Ecology.  doi.org/10.1016/j.funeco.2018.07.010

Lehenberger, M., J. Benz, P., Müller, J. & Biedermann, P. H. (2016). Trypodendron domesticum (Linné) und Trypodendron lineatum (Olivier)(Curculionidae; Scolytinae) als potentielle Vektoren von xylobionten und sapro-xylobionten Pilzen. Mitteilungen der Deutschen Gesellschaft für allgemeine und angewandte Entomologie.