Institut für Evolution und Ökologie

Structural and functional changes of insect eyes in cases of miniaturization


Dr. Stefan Fischer


Auf der Morgenstelle 28E

D-72076 Tübingen


E2 P07


0049 7071 29 74832




General research interests

My research interests are functional and structural changes that occur in insects due to the evolution of small body size within a lineage (miniaturization). Since starting with my PhD at Jacobs University Bremen in 2009, the main focus is laid on the visual system of tiniest insects. Using different descriptive morpho-analytical methods (histology, light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM)), I investigate the compound eyes of smallest Lepidoptera (body sizes as small as 2mm) and Hymenoptera (body sizes < 0.4mm). Within the scope of a DFG- Research Fellowship I joined the working group of Prof. Ian Meinertzhagen at Dalhousie University Halifax (Canada) in 2013 to start also 3-dimensional work on compound eyes to analyze aspects and limits of miniaturization on cellular level. Using ssTEM as basis for 3D reconstructions (TrakEM2) I am currently reconstructing a complete ommatidium on ultrastructural level and started looking also at the first synaptic layer, the lamina.

Apart from miniaturization, my work on Lepidoptera compound eyes raised my interest in the question about the evolution of the different eye types (apposition and superposition eyes) in insects and the question about the ancestral eye type in Lepidoptera and Amphiesmenoptera, respectively. At present we are investigating the eyes of species of some basal lepidopteran taxa in order to learn more about this question.


Qarony W., Hossain M.I., Dewan R., Fischer S., Meyer- Rochow V.B., Salleo A., Knipp D., Tsang Y.H. (2018) Approaching perfect light incoupling in perovskite and silicon thin film solar cells by moth eye surface textures. Advanced Thory and Simulations (in press).

Fischer S., Lu Z., Meinertzhagen I.A. (2017) From two to three dimensions: The importance of the third dimension for evaluating the limits to neuronal miniaturization in insects. J Comp Neurol. (526 (4):653-662)

Makarova A., Polilov A., Fischer S. (2015) Comparative morphological analysis of compound eye miniaturization in minute Hymenoptera. Arthropod Structure & Development 44(1):21-32.

Kristensen N.P., Rota J., Fischer S. (2014) Notable plesiomorphies and notable specializations: Head structure of the primitive "tongue moth" Acanthopteroctetes unifascia (Lepidoptera: Acanthopteroctetidae). Journal of Morphology 275(2):153-72.

Fischer S., Meyer-Rochow V.B., Müller C.H.G. (2013) Compound Eye Miniaturization in Lepidoptera: a comparative morphological analysis. Acta Zoologica

Fischer S., Meyer-Rochow V.B., Müller C.H.G. (2012) Challenging limits: Ultrastructure and size-related functional constraints of the compound eye of Stigmella microtheriella (Lepidoptera: Nepticulidae). Journal of Morphology 273 (9): 1064-1078.

Fischer S., Müller C.H.G., Meyer-Rochow V.B. (2012) Neither apposition nor superposition: the compound eyes of the chestnut leafminer Cameraria ohridella. Zoomorphology 131: 37-55.

Fischer S., Müller C.H.G., Meyer-Rochow V.B. (2011) How small can small be: The compound eye of the parasitoid wasp Trichogramma evanescens (Westwood, 1833) (Hymenoptera, Hexapoda), an insect of 0.3 to 0.4 mm total body size. Visual Neuroscience 28: 295–308.

Dewan R., Fischer S., Meyer-Rochow V.B., Özdemir Y., Hamraz S., Knipp D. (2011) Studying nano-structured nipple arrays of moth eye facets helps to design better thin film solar cells. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics 7 016003,

Fischer S., Patzner R.A., Müller C.H.G., Winkler H. (2007) Studies on the ichthyofauna in the coastal waters of Ibiza (Balearic Islands, Spain). Rostocker Meeresbiologische Beiträge 18: 30-62.


Deutsche Zoologische Gesellschaft (DZG)

International Society for Invertebrate Morphology (ISIM)

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Elektronenmikroskopie e.V. (DGE)