PD Dr. Anita Roth-Nebelsick

Profilbild Anita Roth-Nebelsick


Fossil plants


+49 (0) 711 / 8936-148
+49 (0) 711 / 8936-100

Research interests

Plants need to create a connection between the outside air and the plant or leaf interior, so that CO2 can reach the photosynthesis apparatus via diffusion. This is made possible through controllable micropores in the leaves, the stomata. At the same time, however, water vapor escapes from the leaves (transpiration) and water absorption via the roots becomes necessary. Photosynthesis, transpiration, water absorption and water transport are thus closely linked with each other and with the atmosphere. For the evolution of land plants these processes are of great importance, also with regard to the influence of climate and atmosphere. Functional morphological and paleoecological research are being conducted on this topic which is integrated in cross-cutting issue Q4. Additionally, biomimetic projects are conducted within the context of "Free Research Fields".

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Accepted - in print

  • Konrad. W., Traiser, C. & Roth-Nebelsick, A. High productivity at high latitudes? Photosynthesis and leaf ecophysiology in Arctic forests of the Eocene. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, accepted for publication.



  • Konrad, W., Neinhuis, C., & Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2022). Straight roads into nowhere–obvious and not-so-obvious biological models for ferrophobic surfaces. Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology, 13(1), 1345-1360. https://doi.org/10.3762/bjnano.13.111
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2022). How much biology is in the product? Role and relevance of biological evolution and function for bio-inspired design. Theory in Biosciences, 141(3), 233-247. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12064-022-00367-9
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Konrad, W., Ebner, M., Miranda, T., Thielen, S., & Nebelsick, J. H. (2022). When rain collides with plants—patterns and forces of drop impact and how leaves respond to them. Journal of Experimental Botany, 73(4), 1155-1175. https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/erac004


  • Konrad, W., Katul, G., Roth‐Nebelsick, A. (2021) Leaf temperature and its dependence on atmospheric CO2 and leaf size. Geological Journal, 56, 866-855, download: https://doi.org/10.1002/gj.3757
  • Konrad, W., Roth-Nebelsick, A., Kessel, B., Miranda, T., Ebner, M., Schott, R., & Nebelsick, J. H. (2021). The impact of raindrops on Salvinia molesta leaves: effects of trichomes and elasticity. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 18(185), 20210676. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2021.0676
  • Konrad, W., Royer, D.L., Franks, P.J, Roth‐Nebelsick, A. (2021) Quantitative critique of leaf‐based paleo‐CO2 proxies: Consequences for their reliability and applicability. Geological Journal, 56, 886-902, download: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/gj.3807
  • Ostendorf, A.K., Van Gessel, N., Malkowsky, Y., Sabovljevic, M. S., Rensing, S.A., Roth-Nebelsick, A., & Reski, R. (2021). Polyploidization within the Funariaceae—a key principle behind speciation, sporophyte reduction and the high variance of spore diameters?. Bryophyte Diversity and Evolution, 43(1), 164-179.  https://www.biotaxa.org/dbe/article/view/bde.43.1.13  
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Thiv, M., Malkowsky, Y., Schott, R., Heyer, A. (2021) Structure and functional anatomy of the gas exchange apparatus of leafless orchids: evidence for a control mechanism? Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 197, 249-262
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Grein, M., Traiser, C., Kunzmann, L., Kvaček, Wypich, J., Kovar-Eder, J. (2021) Taxon-specific variability of leaf traits in three long-ranging fossil-species of the Paleogene and Neogene: Responses to climate? Palaeontologia Electronica, download: https://doi.org/10.26879/1114
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Miranda, T., Ebner, M., Konrad, W., & Traiser, C. (2021). From tree to architecture: how functional morphology of arborescence connects plant biology, evolution and physics. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, 101, 267-284. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12549-020-00466-9
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Miranda, T., Ebner, M., Konrad, W., Traiser, C.(2021) From tree to architecture: how functional morphology of arborescence connects plant biology, evolution and physics. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, download:  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12549-020-00466-9


  • Hauber, F., Konrad, W., Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2020). Aerial roots of orchids: the velamen radicum as a porous material for efficient imbibition of water. Applied Physics A, 126(11), 1-17, download: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00339-020-04047-7
  • Miranda, T., Roth-Nebelsick, A., Junginger, A., Ebner, M. (2020) Habitat conditions, spatial distribution and trichome morphology of different species of Tillandsia growing on trees on the Ilha Grande Island, Brazil. Flora, 272, 151692.
  • Schott, R T., Neinhuis, C., Roth‐Nebelsick, A. (2020). Extracellular ice formation in special intercellular air spaces in Stachys byzantina C. Koch. Feddes Repertorium, 131(4), 233-243, download: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/fedr.202000014


  • Konrad, W., Katul, G., Roth-Nebelsick, A., Jensen, K. H. (2019). Xylem functioning, dysfunction and repair: a physical perspective and implications for phloem transport. Tree physiology, 39, 243-261, download: https://academic.oup.com/treephys/article-abstract/39/2/243/5123814
  • Konrad, W., Schott, R., Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2019) A model for extracellular freezing based on observations on Equisetum hyemale. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 478,161-168.
  • Kunzmann, L., Moraweck, K., Müller, C., Schröder, I., Wappler, T., Grein, M., Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2019) A Paleogene leaf flora (Profen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany) and its potentials for palaeoecological and palaeoclimate reconstructions. Flora, 254,71-87.
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2019) It´s contagious: calculation and analysis of xylem vulnerability to embolism by a mechanistic approach based on epidemic modeling. Trees, 33,5,1519-1533.
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Konrad, W. (2019) Fossil leaf traits as archives for the past — and lessons for the future? Flora, 254,59-70.


  • Konrad, W., Roth-Nebelsick, A., Neinhuis, C. (2018) Epicuticular Wax Formation and Regeneration—A Remarkable Diffusion Phenomenon for Maintaining Surface Integrity and Functionality in Plant Surfaces. In: Diffusive Spreading in Nature, Technology and Society, pp. 71-91. Springer (Ed.: J. Kärger).
  • Kowalczyk, J. B., Royer, D. L., Miller, I. M., Anderson, C. W., Beerling, D. J., Franks, P. J., Grein, M. , Konrad, W., Roth‐Nebelsick, A., Bowring, S. A., Johnson, K. R., Ramezani, J. (2018) Multiple proxy estimates of atmospheric CO2 from an early Paleocene rainforest. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology. 33,12,1427-1438, download: doi:10.1029/2018PA003356
  • Malkowsky, Y., Ostendorf, A. K., Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2018) Funariaceae Underground - A Spore Bank for Physcomitrella patens and Physcomitrium eurystomum. Herzogia,31,2,791-797.
  • Schott R.T., Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2018) Ice nucleation in stems of trees and shrubs with different frost resistance. IAWA Journal39: 177-190.
  • Traiser, C., Roth-Nebelsick, A., Grein, M., Kovar-Eder, J., Kunzmann, L., Moraweck, K., Lange, J., Kvaček, J., Neinhuis, C., Folie, A. (2018). MORPHYLL: A a database of fossil leaves and their morphological traits. Palaeontologia Electronica. 21(1), 1-17, download: http://palaeo-electronica.org/content/2018/2114-database-of-fossil-leaves


  • Schott, R., Voigt, D., Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2017) Extracellular ice management in the frost hardy horsetail Equisetum hyemale L. Flora. 234, 207-214.
  • Konrad, W., Katul, G., Roth-Nebelsick, A., Grein, M. (2017) A reduced order model to analytically infer atmospheric CO2 concentration from stomatal and climate data. Advances in Water Resources 104, 145–157.
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Grein, M., Traiser, C., Moraweck, K., Kunzmann, L., Kovar-Eder, J., Kvaček, J., Stiller, S., Neinhuis, C. (2017) Functional leaf traits and leaf economics in the Paleogene — A case study for Central Europe. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 472, 1-14.
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Hauber, F., Konrad, W. (2017) The Velamen Radicum of Orchids: A Special Porous Structure for Water Absorption and Gas Exchange. In: Gorb S., Gorb E. (eds) Functional Surfaces in Biology III. Biologically-Inspired Systems, vol 10. Springer, Cham
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Konrad, W. (2017) Habitat responses of fossil plant species to palaeoclimate – Possible interference with CO2? Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 467: 277–286.



  • Konrad, W., Burkhardt, J., Ebner, M., Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2015) Leaf pubescence as a possibility to increase water use efficiency by promoting condensation. Ecohydrology (8): 480-92


  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Oehm, C., Grein, M., Utescher, T., Kunzmann, L., Friedrich, J.-P., Konrad. W. (2014) Stomatal density and index data of Platanus neptuni leaf fossils and their evaluation as a CO2 proxy for the Oligocene. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology (206):1-9.


  • Ebner, M., Roth-Nebelsick, A., Miranda, T., Lopes dos Santos, J.R., Belmonte, S.L.R., Kuroki, I.M.H.C., Kuroki, I.R. (2013) Bromélias - Bromeliads. In: Lopes, J., Jr., A.B., Azevedo, S.A., Jr., H.W. (Eds.), 3D - Desvenando o passado, modelando o futuro- Unveiling the past, shaping the future. Lexikon, Rio de Janeiro.
  • Grein, M., Oehm, C., Konrad, W., Utescher, T., Kunzmann, L. , Roth-Nebelsick, A., (2013) Atmospheric CO2 from the late Oligocene to early Miocene based on photosynthesis data and fossil leaf characteristics. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (374): 41-51.
  • Miranda, T.,Ebner, M., Traiser, C., Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2013) Diurnal pattern of stomatal conductance in the large-leaved temperate liana Aristolochia macrophylla depends on spatial position within the leaf lamina. Annals of Botany 111(5): 905-915. OPEN ACCESS - LINK TO PDF: http://aob.oxfordjournals.org/content/111/5/905.full.pdf?keytype=ref&ijk...
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2013) Die Namib - Leben aus dem Nebel. In: Stiller, M., Grein, M. (Eds.), Faszination Afrika - Naturräume eines Kontinents. Übersee Museum Bremen, Bremen.
  • Tötzke, C., Miranda, T., Konrad, W., Gout, J., Kardjilov, N., Dawson, M., Manke, I., Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2013) Visualization of embolism formation in the xylem of liana stems using neutron radiography. Annals of Botany  111(4): 723-73.


  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Fernández, V., Peguero-Pina, J.J., Sancho-Knapik, D., Gil.Pelegrín, E. (2012) Stomatal encryption by epicuticular waxes as a plastic trait modifying gas exchange in a Mediterranean evergreen species (Quercus coccifera L.). Plant, Cell & Environment 36(3): 579-589.
  • Voigt, D., Roth-Nebelsick, A., Miranda, T., Ebner, M., Gorb, S. (2012) Visualization of small water droplets on surfaces with different degree of wettability by using cryo-scanning electron microscopy. Journal of Advanced Microscopy Research 7: 64–67.
  • Nobis, M.P., Traiser, C. and Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2012) Latitudinal variation in morphological traits of the genus Pinus and its relation to environmental and phylogenetic signals. Plant Ecology & Diversity 5: 1-11.
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Ebner, M., Miranda, T., Gottschalk, V., Voigt, D., Gorb, S., Stegmaier, T., Sarsour, J., Linke, M. , Konrad, W. (2012) Leaf surface structures enable the endemic Namib desert grass Stipagrostis sabulicola to irrigate itself with fog water. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 9: 1965-1974.  
  • Konrad, W., Ebner, M., Traiser, C. and Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2012) Leaf surface wettability and implications for drop shedding and evaporation from forest canopies. Pure and Applied Geophysics.169: 835-845
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Grein, M., Utescher, T. and Konrad, W. (2012) Stomatal pore length change in leaves of Eotrigonobalanus furcinervis (Fagaceae) fromthe Late Eocene to the Latest Oligocene and its impact on gas exchange and CO2 reconstruction. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 174: 106-112.


  • Ebner, M., Miranda, T. and Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2011) Efficient fog harvesting by Stipagrostis sabulicola (Namib dune bushman grass). Journal of Arid Environments    75: 524-531.
  • Grein, M., Roth-Nebelsick, A. and Wilde, V. (2011) Carbon isotope compositon of middle Eocene leaves from the Messel Pit, Germany. Palaeodiversity 3: 1-7.
  • Grein, M., Konrad, W., Utescher, T., Wilde, V. and Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2011) Reconstruction of the middle Eocene climate of Messel using palaeobotanical data. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie 260(3): 305-318.
  • Grein, M., Konrad, W., Wilde, V., Utescher, T. and Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2011). Reconstruction of atmospheric CO2 during the early middle Eocene by application of a gas exchange model to fossil plants from the Messel Formation, Germany. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 309: 383-391.
  • Konrad, W. and Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2011) Integrating plant gas exchange, soil, and hydrological parameters in an analytical model: potential use and limitations. Vadose Zone Journal 10: 1196-1204.
  • Konrad, W. and Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2011) Sorting of droplets by migration on structured surfaces. Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology 2: 215-221.


  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Voigt, D. and Gorb, S. Cryo-scanning electron microscopy studies of pits in Pinus wallichiana and Mallotus japonicus. IAWA Journal 31: 257-267.


  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Hassiotou, F., Veneklaas, E. (2009) Stomatal crypts have small effects on transpiration: a numerical model analysis. Plant Physiology 151: 2018-2027.
  • Konrad, W., Apeltauer, C., Frauendiener, J., Barthlott, W., Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2009) Applying methods from differential geometry to devise stable and persistent air layers attached to objects immersed in water. Journal of Bionic Engineering 6: 350-356.
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A. Pull, push and evaporate. The role of surfaces in plant water transport. In S. Gorb (ed.), Functional Surfaces in Biology. Little Structures with Big Effects. Volume 1. Springer Verlag, Berlin.


  • Konrad, W., Roth-Nebelsick, A. and Grein, M. (2008) Modelling of stomatal density response to atmospheric CO2. Journal of Theoretical Biology 253: 638-658.


  • Roth-Nebelsick, A.. (2007) Computer-based studies of diffusion through stomata of different architecture. Annals of Botany 100: 23-32.


  • Roth-Nebelsick, A.. Nach oben gezogen: Die Prinzipien der pflanzlichen Wasserleitung. Biologie in unserer Zeit. (2) 2006: 110-118.


  • Konrad, W. and Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2005) The significance of pit shape for hydraulic isolation of embolized conduits of vascular plants during novel refilling. Journal of Biological Physics 31: 57-71.
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2005) Reconstructing atmospheric carbon dioxide with stomata: possibilities and limitiations of a botanical pCO2-sensor. Trees – Structure and Function 19: 251-265.


  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Utescher, T., Mosbrugger, V., Diester-Haass, L. & Walther, H. (2004) Changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations and climate from the Late Eocene to Early Miocene: palaeobotanical reconstruction based on fossil floras from Saxony, Germany.  Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 205: 43-67.


  • Konrad, W. & Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2003) The Dynamics of Gas Bubbles in Conduits of Vascular Plants. Journal of Theoretical Biology 224: 43-61.
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A. &  Konrad, W. (2003) Assimilation and transpiration capabilities of rhyniophytic plants from the Lower Devonian and their implications for paleoatmospheric CO2 concentration. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 202: 153-178.


  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Uhl, D, Mosbrugger, V. & Kerp, H.(2001)  Evolution and function of leaf venation architecture: a review. Annals of Botany 87: 553-566
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2001) Wie die Funktionsfähigkeit des pflanzlichen Wassertransportsystems `HolzA gewährleistet wird - Adaptive Merkmale und ihre hydrodynamische Deutung. Biona-Report 15: 203-214
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2001) Computer based analysis of steady state and transient heat transfer of small-sized leaves by free and mixed convection. Plant, Cell and Environment 24: 631-640.
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A. (2001) Heat transfer of rhyniophytic plant axes. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 116: 109-122.
  • Mosbrugger, V. & Roth, A. (2001) Prinzipien der Evolution natürlicher Konstruktionen - Pflanzliche Transportsysteme als Modelle für anthropogene Transportstrukturen. S. 87-103. In: A. von Gleich (Hrsg.). Bionik 2. veränderte und erweiterte Auflage. B.G. Teubner, Stuttgart.


  • Konrad, W., Roth-Nebelsick, A., Kerp, H. & Hass, H. (2000)  Transpiraion and assimilation of Early Devonian land plants with axially symmetric telomes - simulations on the tissue level. Journal of Theoretical Biology 206: 91-107.
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A., Grimm, G., Mosbrugger, V., Hass, H. & Kerp, H. (2000) Morphometric analysis of Rhynia and Asteroxylon cross-sections: Testing hypotheses regarding the functional aspects of stele geometry and stelar evolution in early land lants. Paleobiology 26: 405-418.       
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A.,  Mosbrugger, V. & Grimm, G. (2000) Evolution of Water transport systems In early land plants - a trade-off between fabricational cost and functional performance.In: Plant Biomechanics 2000, H.-C. Spatz & T. Speck (Hrsg.). Thieme Verlag, pp. 123 - 128.
  • Roth-Nebelsick, A. & Speck, T. (2000) Mechanical and hydrodynamic properties of vessels with tertiary helical thickenings B new information about possible functional relationships. Plant Biomechanics 2000, H.-C. Spatz & T. Speck (Hrsg.). Thieme Verlag, pp. 265-271.



Die Sonderausstellung „Baubionik – Biologie trifft Architektur“ widmete sich einem aktuellen Forschungsprogramm: Die Ausstellung war Teil und Schaufenster des von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) geförderten Sonderforschungsbereichs TRR141 (Biological Design and Integrative Structures – Analysis, Simulation and Implementation in Architecture).

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since 2009

  • Curator for fossil plants, SMNS


  • Projektwissenschaftler am Institut für Geowissenschaften, Universität Tübingen


  • Projektgruppenleiter “Functional morphology and biomimetics“ am Institut für Geowissenschaften, Universität Tübingen


  • Forschungsstipendium der DFG


  • Forschungsassistent im SFB 230 (“Natural constructions“, University of Stuttgart)


  • Stipendium im Rahmen des Graduiertenförderungsgesetzes Nordrhein-Westfalen


  • Habilitation, Universität Tübingen (Venia legendi für Paläontologie und Botanik)


  • Dissertation, Universität Tübingen


  • Diplom (Biologie) Universität Bonn


  • Universität Bonn


  • Universität Köln


  • Universität Bielefeld


Paläobotanik: Universität Tübingen (1994 – 2008), Hohenheim (seit 2013)

Biomimetik: Universität Tübingen (seit 2012)

Betreuung diverser Diplom-, Bachelor- und Masterkandidaten sowie Doktoranden


Vorstandsmitglied im „Kompetenznetz Biomimetik“ des Landes Baden-Württemberg



Techtextil Innovation Award, Category “New Materials”: "Development of three-dimensional textile materials for the recovery of water from fog aerosols", together with: The Institute of Textile Technology and Process Engineering Denkendorf (Germany) , The Institute of Geo-sciences (Institut für Geowissenschaften), University of Tübingen (Germany),  Mattes & Ammann GmbH & Co. KG (Germany) and Solarenergie Stefanakis (Germany)