Prof. Dr. Sara Diana Leonhardt


Plant-Insect Interactions

Academic Career and Research Areas

The research of Sara Leonhardt addresses the ecology and chemistry of plant-insect interactions in both temperate and tropical regions, with particular focus on bees. Projects investigate bee-plant interactions as well as bee health and performance in different habitats and along biodiversity gradients. Research in her group combines ecological methods (field studies, biostatistics) with classic behavioral and physiological studies (e.g. behavioral conditioning) and modern analytical chemistry (GCMS, HPLC).

Sara Leonhardt studied biology at the University of Würzburg (Germany) and at the Duke University (NC, USA). In 2010, she obtained her doctorate from the department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology at Würzburg University. Afterwards, she worked as postdoctoral researcher at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg (Germany) and as associate lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast (Australia), before becoming a research group leader at the University of Würzburg in 2013 and a professor at TUM in 2019.


    • BiodivERsA EU Grant (2019)
    • Bosch Fast Track Career Development Fellowship (2017)
    • GSLS PostDocPlus Research Award (2014)
    • Eon Kulturpreis Bayern (2011)
    • GSLS PhD Fellowship (2005)

    Ruedenauer FA, Spaethe J, van der Kooi C, Leonhardt SD: „Pollinator or pedrigee: which factors determine the evolution of pollen nutrients.“ Oecologia. 2019; online.


    Kaluza BF, Wallace HM, Heard TA, Minden V, Klein AM, Leonhardt SD: „Social bees are fitter in more biodiverse environments.“ Scientific Reports. 2018; 8: 12353.


    Leonhardt SD, Menzel F, Nehring V, Schmitt T: „Ecology and evolution of communication in social insects.“ CELL. 2016; 164: 1277-1287.


    Drescher N, Wallace HM, Katouli M, Massaro CF, Leonhardt SD: „Diversity matters: how bees benefit from different resin sources.“ Oecologia. 2014; 176: 943-953.


    Leonhardt SD, Rasmussen C, Schmitt T: „Genes versus environment: geography and phylogenetic relatedness shape the chemical profiles of stingless bees on a global scale.“ Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 2013; 280.