Dr Lena Bayer-Wilfert
Senior Lecturer in Molecular Evolution


I am an evolutionary geneticist with particular interest in host-parasite interactions. To study the ecological and evolutionary risk factors that drive multi-host pathogens and emerging diseases, I use rapidly evolving viral pathogens that infect pollinating insects as an ecologically relevant model system. With a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin fellowship, I have recently shown that the globally distributed strain of DWV is a re-emerging man-made epidemic in honeybees and we have reviewed the biological and anthropogenic risk factors driving disease emergence in pollinators. We are currently following up this work by studying the effect of Varroa on disease prevalence and abundance as well as on viral diversity in wild pollinators. Visit our lab website to find out more.

During my PhD with Paul Schmid-Hempel at ETH Zurich, I studied the quantitative genetics of disease resistance and immunity in bumblebees. As a post-doc with Frank Jiggins, first at the University of Edinburgh and then at the University of Cambridge, I studied the coevolutionary dynamics of Drosophila melanogaster and the sigma virus, a vertically transmitted parasite.

Broad research specialisms:

My research focuses on the evolutionary ecology of fast-evolving viral parasites of pollinating insects such as bumblebees and hoverflies. With this natural system, I am asking fundamental questions such as identifying ecological and genetic risk factors that promote the emergence of novel diseases. As healthy pollinators are crucial for all flowering plants, my research is also motivated by the potential to improve conservation biology and agriculture.


Dr. sc (ETH Zurich, Switzerland; 2006)
Diploma in Biology (University Bayreuth, Germany; 2002)


Contact details

AddressDaphne du Maurier Building
University of Exeter
Penryn Campus
TR10 9FE

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