Manon de Visser

Manon's profile picture

I am fascinated by the evolutionary mechanisms that shape the natural world, more specifically by what happens when species become threatened or populations become isolated. When species adapt to their changing environments, it sometimes happens that nature, oddly enough, "fools" itself as a result of basic, evolutionary principles. As a PhD candidate I therefore work on explaining how a weird, evolutionary flaw in crested and marbled newts (genus Triturus) evolved. My project is a collaboration between Naturalis and the Institute of Biology Leiden (IBL).


Balanced Lethal System, Evolution, Conservation, Genetics, Genomics, Inbreeding, Evo-Devo, Embryology, Newts, Salamanders, Amphibians, Gene Expression

Manon de Visser

PhD Candidate / Guest Researcher
PhD Council member
Understanding Evolution
+31 (0)6 48 396 715

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Lethal Systems

Photo of a crested newtI am a member of the Wielstra lab (ERC Starting Grant-funded research), where we study the genomics underlying the best-known case of a balanced lethal system: chromosome 1 syndrome in Triturus newts. Balanced lethal systems are considered an evolutionary failure, because natural selection is unable to get rid of the associated recessive, lethal alleles. I investigate the lethality and evolutionary origin of this system in collaboration with IBL. Are you curious to find out more? Just click here to read about balanced lethal systems!


What is it actually like to work as a PhD in the field of genomics, for both Naturalis and the University of Leiden? And what do I learn from salamanders?

Manon's DNA talk 1: intro



  • Fahrbach M., Visser M.C. de, Wielstra B.M. The hybrid zone between the Italian and Northern crested newts (Triturus carnifex and T. cristatus) reaches Germany, Salamandra 57(3): 428-434.
  • Visser M.C. de, Liu, L., Bosse, M. (2021). Pygmy hogs, Current Biology 31(8):R366-R368.
  • Visser M.C. de, France J.M., Meilink W.R.M. & Wielstra B.M. (2021). Een evolutionair raadsel: het dodelijke chromosoom 1 syndroom in Triturus-salamanders, RAVON 23(1): 9-12.
  • Struijk R.P.J.H, Demirkapu B., Visser M.C. de & Wielstra B.M. (2021). Exotische smaragdhagedissen in de duinen bij Scheveningen, Kijk op Exoten (34): 12-13.
  • Liu, L., Bosse, M., Megens, H.J., Visser, M.C. de, Groenen, M.A.M., Madsen, O. (2020) "Genetic consequences of long‐term small effective population size in the critically endangered pygmy hog." Evolutionary Applications 14:710-720.
  • Tuijl, C. van, Bochove, K. van, Visser, M.C. de (2019). Genetic Structure of Badger Populations in a Fragmented Landscape: How Do Barriers Affect Populations on a Genetic Level? Lutra 62: 65-76.

Awards & Prizes:

  • "1st prize for one-minute pitch" at the Netherlands Society of Evolutionary Biology PhD & Postdoc meeting 2021 (NLSEB2021), for the pitch: "The balanced lethal system in Triturus: an evolutionary trap!"
  • "3rd best oral presentation" at the Programming For Evolutionary Biology Conference 2021 (miniPEB2021), Freie Universität Berlin, for the talk: "Studying the lethality and evolutionary origin of the balanced lethal system in Triturus newts".
  • "1st prize for oral presentation" within subtheme: Global Health - Humans and Animals" at the University of Copenhagen EuroLeague of Life Sciences (ELLS) Student Conference 2017, for the MSc project "The Importance of Genomics for the Conservation Management of the Critically Endangered Pygmy Hog (Porcula salvania)".
  • "Best oral presentation" at the Benelux International Society of Applied Ethology (ISAE) meeting 2016, for the MSc project "The effect of exposure to visitors on stress in the critically endangered blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons) and other primate species at Apenheul Primate Park, the Netherlands."