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 Research projects         

DFG - Now

Three-dimensional digitization of insect collections


BMBF - Finished

Network for Online Visualization and synergistic Analysis
of tomographic data (NOVA)

BMBF - Finished

Arthropod structure revealed by ultra-fast tomography and online reconstruction




Klunk CL, Argenta MA, Rosumek  FB, Schmelzle S, van de Kamp T, Hammel JU, Pie MR, Heethoff M (2023). Simulated biomechanical performance of morphologically disparate ant mandibles under bite loading. Scientific Reports 13:16833. doi:10.1038/s41598-023-43944-8


Amendt J, Heethoff M, Reifarth N, Schmelzle S, van de Kamp T (2022). Mikrokosmos Paulinus - eine Fliege im High-Tech-Scan. 

Golian M, Bien T, Schmelzle S, Esparza-Mora MA, McMahon DP, Dreisewerd K, Buellesbach J (2022). Neglected Very Long-Chain Hydrocarbons and the Incorporation of Body Surface Area Metrics Reveal Novel Perspectives for Cuticular Profile Analysis in Insects. Insects, 13, 83. doi:10.3390/insects13010083


Schmelzle S, Bruns S, Beckmann F, Moosmann J, Lautner S (2020). Using In Situ Synchrotron-Radiation-Based Microtomography to Investigate 3D Structure-Dependent Material Properties of Tension Wood. Advanced Engineering Materials, 2100235. doi:10.1002/adem.202100235


Lösel PD, van de Kamp T, Jayme A, Ershov A, Faragó T, Pichler O, Jerome NT, Aadepu N, Bremer S, Chilingaryan SA,
Heethoff M, Kopmann A, Odar J, Schmelzle S, Zuber M, Wittbrodt J, Baumbach T, Heuveline V (2020). Introducing Biomedisa as an open-source online platform for biomedical image segmentation. NATURE COMMUNICATIONS 11:5577. doi:10.1038/s41467-020-19303-w

Hoenle PO, Lattke JE, Donoso DA, von Beeren C, Heethoff M, Schmelzle S, Argoti A, Camacho L, Ströbel B, Blüthgen N (2020). Odontomachus davidsoni sp. nov. (Hymenoptera, Formicidae), a new conspicuous trap-jaw ant from Ecuador. ZooKeys 948: 75–105. doi:10.3897/zookeys.948.48701


Schmelzle S, Blüthgen N (2019). Under pressure: force resistance measurements in box mites (Actinotrichida, Oribatida). Frontiers in Zoology 16:24. doi:10.1186/s12983-019-0325-x

Tan Jerome N, Ateyev Z, Schmelzle S, Chilingaryan S, Kopmann A (2019) Real-time Local Noise Filter in 3D Visualization of CT Data. IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science PP(99):1-1. doi:10.1109/TNS.2019.2893444


Schraermeyer U, Schmelzle S, Tschulakow AV (2018) Data showing the shapes of cones and Müller cells within the fovea of monkeys reconstructed from serial sections and focused ion beam analysis. Data in Brief 20, 1332-1336. doi:10.1016/j.dib.2018.08.195

Heethoff M, Brückner A, Schmelzle S, Schubert M, Bräuer M, Meusinger R, Dötterl S, Norton RA, Raspotnig G (2018) Life as a fortress – Structure, function, and adaptive values of morphological and chemical defense in the oribatid mite Euphthiracarus reticulatus (Actinotrichida). BMC Zoology 3:7, 1-20. doi:10.1186/s40850-018-0031-8

Tan Jerome N, Ateyev Z, Schmelzle S, Chilingaryan S, Kopmann A (2018) Real-time Local Noise Filter in 3D Visualization of CT Data. arXiv:1807.03119v1  

Ströbel B, Schmelzle S, Blüthgen N, Heethoff M (2018) An automated device for the digitization and 3D modelling of insects, combining extended-depth-of-field and all-side multi-view imaging. ZooKeys 759, 1-27. doi:10.3897/zookeys.759.24584

Tschulakow AV, Oltrup T, Bende T, Schmelzle S, Schraermeyer​ U (2018) The anatomy of the foveola reinvestigated. PeerJ 6:e4482. doi:10.7717/peerj.4482 (preprint also available: PeerJ Preprints 6:e26518v1. doi:10.7287/peerj.preprints.26518v1)

Mexner W, Bonn M, Kopmann A, Mauch V, Ressmann D, Chilingaryan SA, Jerome NT, van de Kamp T, Heuveline V, Lösel P, Schmelzle S, Heethoff M (2018) OpenGL® API-Based Analysis of Large Datasets in a Cloud Environment. In Das P, Deka G (eds) Design and Use of Virtualization Technology in Cloud Computing. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-2785-5.ch006


Schmelzle S, Heethoff M, Heuveline V, Lösel P, Becker J, Beckmann F, Schluenzen F, Hammel JU, Kopmann A, Mexner W, Vogelgesang M, Jerome NT, Betz O, Beutel R, Wipfler B, Blanke A, Harzsch S, Hörnig M, Baumbach T, van de Kamp T (2017) The NOVA project - maximizing beam time efficiency through synergistic analyses of SRμCT data. In: Müller B, Wang G (eds) Developments in X-Ray Tomography XI. Proc. of SPIE Vol. 10391, 103910P. doi:10.1117/12.2275959

Lösel P, Heuveline V, Jerome NT , Kopmann A , van de Kamp T, Schmelzle S, Heethoff M (2017) Biomedisa: The Biomedical Image Segmentation App. 3rd International Conference on Tomography of Materials and Structures Lund, Sweden, 26-30 June 2017, ICTMS2017-106-3

Kühsel S, Brückner A, Schmelzle S, Heethoff M, Blüthgen N (2017) Surface area – volume ratios in insects. Insect Science 24, 829-841. doi:10.1111/1744-7917.12362


Hartmann K, Laumann M, Bergmann P, Heethoff M, Schmelzle S (2016) Development of the Synganglion and Morphology of the Adult Nervous System in the Mite Archegozetes longisetosus Aoki (Chelicerata, Actinotrichida, Oribatida). Journal of Morphology 277: 537-548. doi:10.1002/jmor.20517


Schmelzle S (2015) Evolution and functional morphology of ptychoidy in Ptyctima (Acari, Oribatida). Universitätsbibliothek Universität Tübingen, PhD thesis, 140pp. doi:10.15496/publikation-8539

Schmelzle S, Norton RA, Heethoff M (2015) Mechanics of the ptychoid defense mechanism in Ptyctima (Acari, Oribatida): one problem, two solutions. Zoologischer Anzeiger - A Journal of Comparative Zoology 254: 27-40. doi:10.1016/j.jcz.2014.09.002


Schmelzle S, Norton RA, Heethoff M (2012) A morphological comparison of two closely related ptychoid oribatid mite species: Phthiracarus longulus and P. globosus (Acari: Oribatida: Phthiracaroidea). Soil Organisms 84 (2): 431-443.


Alberti G, Heethoff M, Norton RA, Schmelzle S, Seniczak A, Seniczak S (2011) Fine Structure of the Gnathosoma of Archegozetes longisetus Aoki (Acari: Oribatida, Trhypochthoniidae). Journal of Morphology 272 (9): 1025–1079. doi:10.1002/jmor.10971


Schmelzle S, Helfen L, Norton RA, Heethoff M (2010) The ptychoid defensive mechanism in Phthiracarus longulus (Acari: Oribatida): Exoskeletal and muscular elements. Soil Organisms 82 (2): 253-273.


Schmelzle S, Helfen L, Norton RA, Heethoff M (2009) The ptychoid defensive mechanism in Euphthiracaroidea (Acari: Oribatida): A comparison of muscular elements with functional considerations. Arthropod Structure and Development 38 (6): 461-472. doi:10.1016/j.asd.2009.07.001


Schmelzle S, Helfen L, Norton RA, Heethoff M (2008) The ptychoid defensive mechanism in Euphthiracaroidea (Acari: Oribatida): A comparison of exoskeletal elements. Soil Organisms 80 (2): 227-241.



sebastian.schmelzle (at)

B1|08, Room 3

Dr. Sebastian Schmelzle


Fachbereich Biologie

Technische Universität Darmstadt

Schnittspahnstr. 2

64287 Darmstadt



Phone +49 6151 16 20079

Dr. Sebastian Schmelzle



  • 2022 - NOW Research assistant of PD Dr. Heethoff, TU Darmstadt, in a DFG funded LIS project

  • 2020 - 2021 Research assistant of Prof. Dr. Silke Lautner, HNE Eberswalde, in the BMEL and BMU funded Waldklimafonds project 2219WK20G4

  • 2016 - 2020 Research assistant of PD Dr. Heethoff, TU Darmstadt, in the BMBF funded project ‘NOVA’

  • 2013 - 2016 Research assistant of PD Dr. Heethoff, TU Darmstadt, in the BMBF funded project ‘ASTOR’


  • 2013 Teaching assistance at the TU Darmstadt


  • 2012 - 2013 Technical assistance at the professorship Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates, University Tübingen


  • 2009 Research assistant for Prof. Dr. Sven Gemballa, University Tübingen


  • 2011 - 2012 Field work at the University Tübingen


  • 2008 - 2009 Research assistant for Dr. Daniel Bumbarger, Max-Plank-Institute, Tübingen


  • 2007 Research assistant for PD Dr.  Michael Heethoff, University Tübingen


  • 2005 - 2011 Research assistant for Prof. Dr. Oliver Betz, University Tübingen


  • 2005 - 2015 Several research periods at the ESRF, Grenoble, and the ANKA, KIT, Karlsruhe: Synchrotron X-ray microtomography


  • 2002 - 2013 Teaching assistance at the University Tübingen




  • 2009 - 2015 PhD: ‘Evolution and functional morphology of ptychoidy in Ptyctima (Acari, Oribatida)’, graded ‘magna cum laude’


  • 2008 Diploma in Biology, graded 1.7 (equivalent to an A-)


  • 2007 - 2008 Diploma thesis: ‘Evolution und Funktion von Ptychoidie bei verschiedenen Hornmilben (Acari, Oribatida)’, graded 1.0 (equivalent to an A+)


  • 2001 - 2007 ‘Graduate’ of Biology with major Zoology and minors animal physiology, and experimental physics at the ‘Eberhard Karls University’, Tübingen

 Research interests           


I am interested in the functional morphology of animals in general. The mechanism I am currently working on is a defensive mechanism that probably evolved three times independently in oribatid mites - ptychoidy. It enables the animals to retract their legs and mouthparts into a secondary cavity in the idiosoma and by deflecting the prodorsum encapsulate themselves. The mechanism is very complex, requiring several exoskeletal and muscular adaptations. And the study of those features in the three groups reveals that every group meets these requirements differently based on their phylogenetic background (for example the accommodation of hemolymph displacement during encapsulation).

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