Anna-Liisa Laine

Professor of Ecology
University of Zürich, Switzerland

Director of Research Centre for Ecological Change
Visiting Professor at University of Helsinki

Understanding biodiversity for a better future.

We study ecosystems from the top down and from the bottom up to understand how the world stays green.

The interactions that link species to one another are the building blocks of biodiversity. In our work we are broadly interested in the eco-evolutionary feedback loops that drive species interactions.
To uncover these, we combine experimental, and molecular approaches with field surveys and mathematical modelling. These complementary approaches allow us to pinpoint the processes by which natural communities are structured and how they function.
This offers irreplaceable insight to understand how our biodiversity is responding to ongoing global change, and how we can improve sustainability of the global food production system.


Krista Raveala
Research Technician
Fieldwork, SQL, 3D modeling

Matthias Furler
Nature, creativity, sports

Fletcher Halliday
Global change, disease ecology

Luiz Domeignoz Horta
Post doc
Microbial ecology, diversity

Michael Giolai
Post doc
Plant pathogen interactions, genomics

Tuuli Rissanen
Post doc
Species-environment relationships, biodiversity

Hanna Susi
Post doc

Paula Thitz
Post doc
Plant-invertebrate interations
Carbon Action

Debra Zuppinger-Dingley
Program Manager, LSYGS PhD Program Ecology
Biodiversity, global change, evoecology
debra.zuppinger[at] Website Twitter

Franziska Brenninger
PhD student
Sexual conflict, host-parasite interactions, tea

Maija Jokinen
PhD student
Molecular biology, viruses

Michael Rechsteiner
PhD Student
co-supervisor Prof. Dr.Andreas Wagner

Tanja Sostizzo
PhD student
co-supervised with Dr. Giselher Grabenweger

Nicolas Zurbuchen
PhD Student
Disease ecology, botany

Aram Sophie Kübler
MSc Student
Supervisor Dr. Fletcher Halliday
Disease ecology & Biodiversity

Marie-louise Spalinger
MSc Student
Supervisor Dr. Luiz Domeignoz-Horta
Soil ecology, diversity, nature


Key Research Themes

Long-term ecology

Long-term nature observation series are indispensable records of how individual populations and species are responding to environmental change. In the Research Centre for Ecological Change we are systematically collecting long-term ecological data for an unprecedented syntheses of how communities of organisms are responding to change.

Biodiversity in a changing world

We are studying how natural communities are responding to global change and how interactions among species across trophic levels are changing as well.

Global plant demography

As part of PlantPopNet, we are driving a coordinated global effort combining data and theory to understand abiotic and biotic drivers of population persistence and distribution in a changing world.

Biological diversity and sustainable food production

Humans have intensified and mechanized agricultural processes in an effort to boost efficiency, productivity and profits. As a result, global food systems are increasingly generating severe social, environmental, economic and climate costs. We are investigating how mechanisms that promote stability in natural ecosystems could be utilized to develop sustainable and climate-smart food production systems.

Intraspecific variation in host-parasite interactions

Understanding how diversity is maintained in host and parasite populations is one of the core challenges in disease biology. Using long-term population dynamic data combined with genomics and experimentation, we address this question in a natural plant-pathogen interaction. This work brings us one step closer to answering questions of how risks of virulence and pathogen occurrence evolve – important questions from both basic and applied points of view.

Pathogen communities

Across biological systems it is becoming increasingly clear that host populations and even single host individuals are typically exploited by diverse pathogen communities. In our work we aim to understand the spatio-temporal determinants of this diversity, and what the eco-evolutionary implications are for both hosts and pathogens.



Academy of Finland

Jane & Aatos Erkko Foundation

Nessling Foundation

University of Zürich

University of Helsinki


Cappelli, S. L., Domeignoz-Horta, L. A., Loaiza, V. & Laine, A.-L. (2022) Plant biodiversity promotes sustainable agriculture directly and via belowground effects. Trends in Plant Science. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2022.02.003

Fraixedas, S., Roslin, T. Antão, L. H., Pöyry, J. & Laine, A.-L. (2022) Nationally reported metrics can’t adequately guide transformative change in biodiversity policy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 119 (9) e2117299119. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2117299119

Norberg, A., Susi, H., Sallinen, S., Safdari, P., Clark, N. and Laine, A.L. (2022) Direct and indirect viral associations predict coexistence in wild plant virus communities. Research Square Preprint. doi: 10.21203/

Susi, H., Sallinen, S., & Laine, A.-L. (2022) Coinfection with a virus constrains within-host infection load but increases transmission potential of a highly virulent fungal plant pathogen. Ecology and Evolution, 12, e8673. doi:10.1002/ece3.8673

Santangelo, J. S., Ness, R. W., Cohan. B.…. Laine, A.-L. …. Johnson, M. J. T. (>100 authors) (2022) Global urbanization drives adaptation in the plant white clover. Science, In press.

Safdari, P., Höckerstedt, L., Brosche, M., Salojärvi, J. & Laine, A.-L. (2021) Genotype-Specific Expression and NLR Repertoire Contribute to Phenotypic Resistance Diversity in Plantago lanceolata. Frontiers in Plant Science, 12, 1376. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2021.675760

Susi, H. and Laine, A.-L. (2021) Agricultural land use disrupts biodiversity mediation of virus infections in wild plant populations. New Phytologist, 230: 2447-2458. doi: 10.1111/nph.17156

Villellas, J., Ehrlén, J., Crone, E., Csergő, A., Garcia, M., Laine, A.-L., …  Buckley, Y. (2021) Genetic differentiation can be predicted from observational data for reproductive but not vegetative traits in a widespread short-lived plant. Ecology Letters, 24, 2378-2393. doi: 10.1111/ele.13858

Halliday, F. W., Jalo, M. and Laine, A.‐L. (2021) The effect of host community functional traits on plant disease risk varies along an elevational gradient. eLife. doi: 10.7554/eLife.67340

Höckerstedt, L, Susi, H, Laine, A‐L. (2021) Effect of maternal infection on progeny growth and resistance mediated by maternal genotype and nutrient availability. Journal of Ecology; 00:1– 13. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.13568.

Kaarlejärvi, E., Salemaa, M., Tonteri, T., Merilä, P, Laine, A.‐L. (2021) Temporal biodiversity change following disturbance varies along an environmental gradient. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 30: 476– 489. doi: 10.1111/geb.13233

Sallinen, S., Norberg, A., Susi, H. & Laine, A.-L. (2020) Intraspecific host variation plays a key role in virus community assembly. Nature Communications, 11, 5610. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-19273-z

Halliday. F. W., Penczykowski, R., Barres, B., Eck, J., Numminen, E. & Laine, A.-L. (2020) Facilitative priority effects drive parasite assembly under coinfection. Nature Ecology & Evolution 4: 1510–152. doi: 10.1038/s41559-020-01289-9

Halliday, F. W., Rohr, J. R. & Laine, A.-L. (2020) Biodiversity loss underlies the dilution effect of biodiversity. Ecology Letters, 23:1611-1622. doi: 10.1111/ele.13590

Opedal, Ø., Ovaskainen, O. Saastamoinen, M., Laine, A.-L. & van Nouhuys, S. (2020) Host plant availability drives the spatio-temporal dynamics of interacting metapopulations across a fragmented landscape. Ecology 101(12):e03186. doi: 10.1002/ecy.3186 

Numminen, E. & Laine, A.-L. (2020) The spread of a wild plant pathogen is driven by the road network. PLoS Computational Biology 16(3). doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.100770

Smith, A. L., Hodkinson, T. R., Villellas, J., Catford, J. A., Csergő, A. M., Blomberg, S. P., Crone, E., E., Ehrlén, J., Garcia, M. B., Laine, A.-L., Roach, D. B., Salguero-Gómez, R., Wardle, G. M., Childs, D. Z., Elderd, B. D., Finn, A., Munné-Bosch, S., Baudraz, M. E. A., Bódis, J., Brearley, F. Q., Bucharova, A., Caruso, C. M., Duncan, R. P., Dwyer, J. M., Gooden, B., Groenteman, R., Hamre, L. N., Helm, A., Kelly, R., Laanisto, L., Lonati, L., Moore, J. L., Morales, M., Olsen, S. L., Pärtel, M., Petry, W. K., Ramula, S., Rasmussen, P. U., Enri, S. R., Roeder, A., Roscher, C., Saastamoinen, M., Tack, A. J. M., Töpper, J. P., Vose, G. E., Wandrag, E. M., Wingler, A. and Buckley, Y. M. (2020) Global gene flow releases invasive plants from environmental constraints on genetic diversity. Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences, 117 (8) 4218-4227. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1915848117

Laine, A.-L., Barrès, B., Numminen, E. & Sirén, J. (2019) Variable opportunities for outcrossing result in hotspots of novel genetic variation in a pathogen metapopulation. eLife, 8:e47091. doi: 10.7554/eLife.47091

Dallas, T., Laine, A.-L. & Ovaskainen, O. (2019) Detecting parasite associations within multispecies host and parasite communities. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 286:1912. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2019.1109

Numminen, E., Vaumourin, E., Parratt, S., Poulin, L., & Laine, A.-L. (2019) Variation and correlations between sexual, asexual and natural enemy resistance life-history traits in a natural plant pathogen population. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 19: 142. doi: 10.1186/s12862-019-1468-2

Karvonen, A., Jokela, J. & Laine, A-L. (2019) Importance of sequence and timing of parasite coinfections. Trends in Parasitology, 35: 109-118. doi: 10.1016/

Susi, H. S., Filloux, D., Frilander, M. J., Roumagnac, P. & Laine, A-L. (2019) Diverse and variable virus communities in wild plant populations revealed by metagenomic tools. PeerJ. 7(24): 6140. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6140

Laine, A-L. & Mäkinen, H. (2018) Life-history correlations change under coinfection leading to higher pathogen load. Evolution Letters. 2: 126-133. doi: 10.1002/evl3.48

Penczykowski, R. M., Parratt, S. R., Barres, B., Sallinen, S. K. & Laine, A-L. (2018) Manipulating host resistance structure reveals impact of pathogen dispersal and environmental heterogeneity on epidemics. Ecology. 99: 2853-2863. doi: 10.1002/ecy.2526

Parratt, S. R. & Laine, A-L. (2018) Pathogen dynamics under both bottom-up host resistance and top-down hyperparasite attack. Journal of Applied Ecology. 55: 2976-2985. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.13185

Vaumourin, E. & Laine, A-L. (2018) Role of Temperature and Coinfection in Mediating Pathogen Life-History Traits. Frontiers in Plant Science. 9: 1670. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01670

Höckerstedt, L. M., Siren, J. P. & Laine, A-L. (2018) Effect of spatial connectivity on host resistance in a highly fragmented natural pathosystem. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 31: 844-852. doi: 10.1111/jeb.13268


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Anna-Liisa Laine
Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Winterthurerstrasse 190
8057 Zurich, Switzerland

Email: anna-liisa.laine[at]
Office: Y13-H-44
Phone: +41 44 635 4804
Twitter: @allaine

Getting here

We are located in building Y13 at the Irchel campus of the University of Zurich.

Arriving by public transport

From the Zurich main station (Hauptbahnhof or HB), tram stop Bahnhofplatz/HB:

-Take tram 10, direction Seebach, to the stop “Universität Zürich” (about 13 min). From there walk through the park to the campus buildings.
-Take tram 14, direction Seebach, to the stop “Michbuck” (about 11 min).
-Take tram number 7, direction Stettbach, to the stop “Milchbuck”. From there walk through the park to the campus buildings.

Tip: a 24 hour ticket within zone 110 is valid for any number of rides within 24 hours of purchase and costs the same as two single rides. Note that you have to buy your ticket at a tram stop, train station or using an app (ZVV, SBB). No tickets are sold inside the tram.

This is the blue cow, a popular meeting point at the Irchel campus.

Link to map of Irchel campus here (open street maps) and here (UZH official).

This is the blue cow, a popular meeting point at the Irchel campus.