Coulm, Martin

Martin Coulm
Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter

Curriculum Vitae


Since 2019 PhD student, Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolutionary Biology, Johannes Gutenberg-University (Mainz, Germany)
2017 - 2019 International M.Sc. in Behavioural Ecology and Evolution, University of Tours (Tours, France)
2012 - 2015 B.Sc. in Biology, University Tours (Tours, France) / University of Rennes 1 (Rennes, France)


Work experience

Since 2019

PhD position, Johannes Gutenberg University (Mainz, Germany)

Supervisor: Dr. Romain Libbrecht

Project: "Epigenetic regulation of reproduction in ants"


Research project, Institute of research in insect biology (Tours, France)

Supervisor: Dr. Joël Meunier

Project: "Study of personal and social immunity in the European earwigs"


Research project, Innophyte (Tours, France)

Supervisor: Maxime Cornillon

Project: "Monitoring of arthropods on organic exploitations inspired by permaculture"


Since a long time I am interested in animals societies. It has always surprised me how diverse these societies can be, from very simples to elaborate forms. Having a background in ecology and evolution, I was able to grab some explanations, mostly from the behavioural point of view. Now with this PhD project, it is time to go deeper adding a layer of molecular biology to this big picture.

PhD project

This PhD project will mainly focus on the epigenetic regulation of reproductive division of labour. In the evolution toward sociality, some species reach a point where one can observe the division of tasks among colony members. Some individuals will performs maintenance while some other, one in most cases, will only reproduce. However, this scenario is not always true, as we can see in some ants species, where some transitions phases happens.

One of these transitions is during colony foundation by a queen ant. At this time, the newly mated queen will start a new colony by taking care of the brood. Once the first workers emerge, the queen will then only focus on reproduction. To investigate the molecular mechanisms responsible for this transition, mainly the differences in genes expressions, we will use the black garden ant, Lasius niger, where it is easy to manipulate the social structure of the queen.

In the opposite of this one time transition, we can observe some that are fixed and periodic. This is the case for the clonal raider ants, Ooceraea biroi, where all individuals of a colony are synchronize in either a reproductive or a foraging phase. Using this system, we can easily manipulate the phase while controlling for age, size and genetic background. These characteristics make O.biroi an ideal model to study the epigenetic mechanisms responsible for the naturally occurring transitions.

Finally, this project aim to bring more molecular support to known phenomenon using methods like RNA-seq or CHIP-seq, and ultimately help to better understand the evolution of sociality in ants.