Michael Niederwanger PhD.


Institut für Zoologie
Universität Innsbruck
Technikerstr. 25
6020 Innsbruck
Raum: 6/13
Tel.: +43 512 507-51879
E-Mail:   michael.niederwanger@uibk.ac.at

Research interest


Our current research focuses on the evolution and function of metal-detoxifying proteins (Metallothioneins) that due to their specific binding preferences have important implications for ecotoxicological sciences and are involved in numerous processes such as metal-detoxification, cell growth and differentiation, ROS protection, radical scavenging and stress response in animals and humans. We use multiple molecular biological methods and analytical chemistry to investigate the structure and function of these proteins in different invertebrates.


Curriculum vitae
Sep 2020 – Sep 2023University of Innsbruck, Dept. of Ecotoxicology Postdoc, FWF Project: Structure, Metal-Loading and Biology of Multi-Domain Metallothioneins (md-MTs)
Mar 2018 - Oct 2019University of Innsbruck, Dept. of Ecophysiology Postdoc, ALFFA Interreg Project: Holistic (multiscale) analysis of all influencing factors and their effect on the fish fauna in the European Alps
Jan 2014 - Feb 2018 University of Innsbruck, Dept. of Ecotoxicology PhD: The metallothionein systems of Biomphalaria glabrata and Littorina littorea reflect structural and functional adaptations to different habitats
Sep 2010 - Dec 2013University of Innsbruck, Dept. of Ecotoxicology MSc in Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology: Transcriptional Regulation of the Cadmium Metallothionein Genen of the Roman Snail (Helix pomatia) under Metal exposure and non-metallic Stress Conditions

Journal Article (Original Paper)


  1. Mario Garcia-Risco, Sara Calatayud, Michael Niederwanger, Ricard Albalat, Oscar Palacios, Merce Capdevila and Reinhard Dallinger (2020) Two Unconventional Metallothioneins in the Apple Snail Pomacea bridgesii Have Lost Their Metal Specificity during Adaptation to Freshwater Habitats. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22, 95. doi: 10.3390/ijms22010095
  2. Reinhard Dallinger, Oliver Zerbe, Christian Baumann, Bernhard Egger, Merce Capdevila, Oscar Palacios, Ricard Albalat, Sara Calatayud, Peter Ladurner, Birgit C. Schlick Steiner, Florian M. Steiner, Veronika Pedrini-Martha, Reinhard Lackner, Herbert Lindner, Martin Dvorak, Michael Niederwanger, Raimund Schnegg and Silvia Atrian§ (2020) Metallomics reveals a persisting impact of cadmium on the evolution of metal-selective snail metallothioneins. Metallomics 2020, 12, 5, p 702-720 doi: 10.1039/C9MT00259F
  3. Martin Dvorak, Raimund Schnegg, Michael Niederwanger, Veronika Pedrini-Martha, Peter Ladurner, Herbert Lindner, Leopold Kremser, Reinhard Lackner and Reinhard Dallinger (2019) Cadmium Pathways In Snails Follow a Complementary Strategy between Metallothionein Detoxification and Auxiliary Inactivation by Phytochelatins. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21, 7 doi: 10.3390/ijms21010007
  4. Martin Dvorak, Reinhard Lackner, Michael Niederwanger, Claire Rotondo, Raimund Schnegg, Peter Ladurner, Veronika Pedrini-Martha, Willi Salvenmoser, Leopold Kremser, Herbert Lindner, Mario Garcia-Risco, Sara Calatayud, Ricard Albalat, Oscar Palacios, Merce Capdevila and Reinhard Dallinger (2018) Metal binding functions of metallothioneins in the slug Arion vulgaris differ from metal-specific isoforms of terrestrial snails†. Metallomics doi: 10.1039/c8mt00215k
  5. Lara Schmielau, Martin Dvorak, Michael Niederwanger, Nicole Dobieszewski, Veronika Pedrini-Martha, Peter Ladurner, Jaime Rodriguez-Guerra Pedregal, Jean-Didier Marechal, Reinhard Dallinger (2018) Differential response to Cadmium exposure by expression of a two and a three-domain metallothionein isoform in the land winkle Pomatias elegans: Valuating the marine heritage of a land snail. Science of the total environment, 648, 561-571 doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.07.426
  6. Denis Benito & Michael Niederwanger, Urtzi Izagirre, Reinhard Dallinger and Manu Soto (2017) Successive Onset of Molecular, Cellular and Tissue-Specific Responses in Midgut Gland of Littorina littorea Exposed to Sub-Lethal Cadmium Concentrations. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(8), 1815doi:10.3390/ijms18081815
  7. Michael Niederwanger, Martin Dvorak, Raimund Schnegg, Veronika Pedrini-Martha, Katharina Bacher, Massimo Bidoli and Reinhard Dallinger (2017) Challenging the Metallothionein (MT) Gene of Biomphalaria glabrata: Unexpected Response Patterns Due to Cadmium Exposure and Temperature Stress. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(8), 1747 doi:10.3390/ijms18081747
  8. Oscar Palacios, Elena Jimenez-Marti, Michael Niederwanger, Selene Gil-Moreno, Oliver Zerbe, Silvia Atrian, Reinhard Dallinger and Merce Capdevila (2017) Analysis of Metal-Binding Features of the Wild Type and Two Domain-Truncated Mutant Variants of Littorina littorea Metallothionein Reveals Ist Cd-Specific Character. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(7), 1452 doi:10.3390/ijms18071452
  9. Michael Niederwanger, Sara Calatayud, Oliver Zerbe, Silvia Atrian, Ricard Albalat, Merce Capdevila, Oscar Palacios and Reinhard Dallinger (2017) Biomphalaria glabrata Metallothionein: Lacking Metal Specificity of the Protein and Missing Gene Upregulation Suggest Metal Sequestration by Exchange Instead of through Selective Binding. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(7), 1457. doi:10.3390/ijms18071457
  10. Christian Baumann, Andrea Beil, Simon Jurt, Michael Niederwanger, Oscar Palacios, Mercé Capdevila, Silvia Atrian, Reinhard Dallinger, Oliver Zerbe (2017) Structural Adaptation of a Protein to increased Metal Stress: NMR Structure of a Marine Snail Metallothionein with an Additional Domain. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Volume 56, Issue 16, Pages 4617-4622. doi:10.1002/anie.201611873
  11. Pedrini-Martha V, Niederwanger M, Kopp R, Schnegg R, Dallinger R (2016) Physiological, Diurnal and Stress-Related Variability of Cadmium-Metallothionein Gene Expression in Land Snails. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0150442. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150442
  12. Pierre-Emmanuel Baurand, Reinhard Dallinger, Michael Niederwanger, Nicolas Capelli, Veronika Pedrini-Martha and Annette de Vaufleury. (2015) Differential sensitivity of snail embryos to cadmium: relation to age and metallothionein gene expression. Environmental Science and Pollution Research: 1614-7499 doi:10.1007/s11356-015-5320-y
  13. Baurand P-E, Pedrini-Martha V, de Vaufleury A, Niederwanger M, Capelli N, et al. (2015) Differential Expression of Metallothionein Isoforms in Terrestrial Snail Embryos Reflects Early Life Stage Adaptation to Metal Stress. PLoS ONE 10(2): e0116004 doi:10.1007/s11356-015-5320-y
  14. Veronika Pedrini-Martha, Renate Kopp, Michael Niederwanger, Reinhard Dallinger (2012) Shedding light on the transcriptional regulation of metallothionein genes in pulmonate gastropods. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology-Part A Molecular & Integrative Physiology, Vol 163:S 51 doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2012.05.150


Journal contributions


  • Niederwanger Michael, Pelster Bernd, Wolfgang Mark (2018): Hormonbelastung und deren Folgen. In: Mitteilungen des Tiroler Fischereiverbandes. TFV-2/2018


Research Grants


  • Granted to Michael Niederwanger: Characterization of a novel, three-domain metallothionein isoform in the freshwater gastropod Biomphalaria glabrata. Tiroler Wissenschaftsfonds (TWF) 01.01.2016 – 31.12.2016


Conference talks


  • Speaker: Michael Niederwanger, Katharina Bacher, Martin Dvorak, Raimund Schnegg, Reinhard Dallinger: Gene structure, protein sequence and function of a novel multi-domain metallothionein from the freshwater snail Biomphalaria glabrata. 30th ESCPB Congress, Barcelona, Spain from 4-7th September 2016
  • Speaker: Michael Niederwanger, Veronika Pedrini-Martha, Martina Höckner, Renate Kopp and Reinhard Dallinger: Molecular mechanisms behind snail metal sensitivity: Cadmium metallothionein gene transcription involves activation of metal responsive elements.     SETAC Europe 24th Annual Meeting, Basel, Switzerland from 11-15th May 2014
  • Speaker: Reinhard Dallinger, Reinhard Lackner, Martin Dvorak, Michael Niederwanger, Oscar Palacios, Merce Capdevila: Phylogenomic concepts in Ecotoxicology: Gastropod metallothioneins as a potential lineage-specific biomarker system in marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. Austrian Society of Toxicology symposium, Vienna, Austria from 20-21st of April 2017
  • Speaker: Raimund Schnegg, Michael Niederwanger, Gema Martinez Garcia, Reinhard Dallinger, Dominik Rünzler: Cadmium as endocrine disruptive chemical in the freshwater gastropod Biomphalaria glabrata. 30th ESCPB Congress, Barcelona, Spain from 4-7th September 2016
  • Speaker: Martin Dvorak, Reinhard Lackner, Michael Niederwanger, Willi Salvenmoser, Reinhard Dallinger: Metabolism and sequestration of zinc in the land slug Arion vulgaris. 30th ESCPB Congress, Barcelona, Spain from 4-7th September 2016
  • Speaker: Veronika Pedrini-Martha, Michael Niederwanger, Katharina Thierbach, Renate Kopp, Martina Höckner, Reinhard Dallinger: Differential involvement of metal responsive elements in transcriptional activation of the Cd-Metallothionein gene of metal-stressed Roman snails. 29th ESCPB Congress, Glasgow, Scotland from 1-4th September 2014
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