Understanding evolution

Planten en schimmels

We study how the interplay of interactions determines evolutionary processes. We integrate a combination of phylogenetic, ecological, genomic, morphological, and anatomical approaches and apply these to several target taxa across the 'Tree of Life'. Our research includes comparative, descriptive, and experimental tools, and implements both field and collection-based research. Our goal is to address fundamental questions on the evolution and patterns of biodiversity, leading to novel and powerful insights into our natural world. 

Group leader

Dr. Vincent Merckx

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Our programmes
& research themes

A selection of the main topics we are working on.


Balanced lethal systems

In an ERC Starting Grant-funded research program, Ben Wielstra explores the role of genome rearrangements in the evolution of balanced lethal systems. In a balanced lethal system, two chromosome forms carry distinct lethal alleles that are reciprocally…
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Fungal evolution

Fungal evolution

Diversification of fungi in the order Russulales. Taxonomists create the language of biodiversity, enabling communication about different organisms among scientists and the general public. This essential work is particularly challenging in hyper diverse…
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Sponge survey at the Spermonde archipelago, SW Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Impact of urbanisation on coral reef ecosystems

Here we assess the historical impact of human settlement on coral reef environments adjacent to two major conurbations in southeast Asia, namely Jakarta and Makassar. This will be the first study to assess on a large spatial scale how the historical…
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Island biogeography of Asteraceae

While birds and mammals have received most attention from island biologists, they actually pale in comparison with plants when it comes to insular diversification. Among plants, the most remarkable group from an island perspective are the daisies…
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Aplysina fistularis sponge

MARBLES Useful molecules from the sea

The MARBLES Project aims to develop new methods for the sustainable collection and use of biological resources from marine environments and assess their commercial potential. Together we will harness the unexplored potential of marine microorganisms as…
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Sponge microbial communities

Sponge microbial communities

Identifying the role and composition of Bacteria and other microbes in sponge host to gain a better understanding of the coral reef ecosystems and the role of Bacteria therein.
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Urban surfaces such as pavement tiles provide a habitat for lichens, bryophytes and pavement plants.

Urban hidden biodiversity

Cities should become greener, more biodiverse and climate-resilient. Many organisms that are important for the functioning of urban green and the wellbeing of urban citizens, however, remain little known. This ‘hidden biodiversity’ (bacteria, fungi, soil…
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