Building on 150 Years of Knowledge: The Freshwater Isopod Asellus aquaticus as an Integrative Eco-Evolutionary Model System

Elvira Lafuente, Moritz D. Lürig, Moritz Rövekamp, Blake Matthews, Claudia Buser, Christoph Vorburger, Katja Räsänen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Interactions between organisms and their environments are central to how biological diversity arises and how natural populations and ecosystems respond to environmental change. These interactions involve processes by which phenotypes are affected by or respond to external conditions (e.g., via phenotypic plasticity or natural selection) as well as processes by which organisms reciprocally interact with the environment (e.g., via eco-evolutionary feedbacks). Organism-environment interactions can be highly dynamic and operate on different hierarchical levels, from genes and phenotypes to populations, communities, and ecosystems. Therefore, the study of organism-environment interactions requires integrative approaches and model systems that are suitable for studies across different hierarchical levels. Here, we introduce the freshwater isopod Asellus aquaticus, a keystone species and an emerging invertebrate model system, as a prime candidate to address fundamental questions in ecology and evolution, and the interfaces therein. We review relevant fields of research that have used A. aquaticus and draft a set of specific scientific questions that can be answered using this species. Specifically, we propose that studies on A. aquaticus can help understanding (i) the influence of host-microbiome interactions on organismal and ecosystem function, (ii) the relevance of biotic interactions in ecosystem processes, and (iii) how ecological conditions and evolutionary forces facilitate phenotypic diversification.

Original languageEnglish
Article number748212
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov 4

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Evolutionary Biology

Free keywords

  • animal model system
  • ecosystem function
  • evolutionary ecology
  • freshwater ecosystems
  • integrative biology
  • microbiome
  • organism-environment interactions


Dive into the research topics of 'Building on 150 Years of Knowledge: The Freshwater Isopod Asellus aquaticus as an Integrative Eco-Evolutionary Model System'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this