Mark Aarts


Mark G.M. Aarts

Associate professor
Plant Genetics
Ph.D. in 1996, Wageningen University
Tel:   (+) 31 317 485413

Fax:  (+) 31 317 418094


  • Natural variation of Arabidopsis abiotic stress tolerance
  • Zinc homeostasis in Arabidopsis
  • Evolution of metal adaptation in Noccaea (Thlaspi) caerulescens
  • Nutritional genomics

Research interests:

The main research interest of my research group is to unravel and understand the molecular basis of plant adaptation to their abiotic environment. Much of this research involves the best studied model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, in which we study adaptation to zinc, phosphor and nitrogen deficiency, drought stress and adverse light conditions using quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis.

Several relatives of Arabidopsis have developed an exceptional adaptation to grow at metal-rich sites. We have selected Noccaea caerulescens (previously known as Thlaspi caerulescens) as the model species to study the molecular nature of this adaptation in detail. This also involves the comparative analysis of zinc homeostasis in Arabidopsis and N. caerulescens, including genetic engineering of metal accumulation or tolerance related traits in other species for phytoremediation purposes.

Next to these model species, we are also interested in the genetic variation in Brassica crops, such as B. rapa (Chinese cabbage) and B. oleracea (cabbage), particularly for environmental adaptation traits and for the production of secondary metabolites that affect the nutritional value of these crops.

Current research projects in the lab are:

  • Development of biosensor Brassica rapa genotypes for monitoring micronutrient deficiency and metal toxicity (2009-2013) (Jimeng Li)
  • Genetic analysis of Nitrogen Use Efficiency in Arabidopsis thaliana (2009-2013) (Nihal Erol-Öztolan)
  • Genetic analysis of plant plasticity of photosynthetic capacity and its tolerance of a fluctuating environment (2009-2013) (Pádraic Flood)
  • Design of a decision matrix to assess GM crop impact on the detrital food web (2009-2012) (Dr. Diana Zuluaga)
  • Constructing the genetic regulatory network controlling Arabidopsis mineral nutrient use (2009-2013) (Ana Carolina A.L. Campos and Charles N. Moreira)
  • An evolutionary perspective on differential transcriptional regulation of zinc homeostasis genes in Arabidopsis thaliana and Thlaspi caerulescens (2008-2012) (Ya-Fen Lin)
  • Bulkes Segregant Microarray-QTL analysis of drought stress response in Arabidopsis thaliana (2008-2012) (Mohamed El-Soda)
  • Functional analysis of zinc hyperaccumulation related genes of Thlaspi caerulescens for phytoremediation purposes (2008-2013) (Zeshan Hassan)
  • Brassica Vegetable Nutrigenomics (2006-2010) (Dr. Hedayat Bagheri)


  • Plant Biotechnology (GEN-20806)
  • Plant Cell and Tissue Culture (PPH-30306)
  • Gene Technology (MOB-20306)
  • Capita Selecta Genetics (GEN-50401/3/4/6)
  • Internship Genetics (GEN-70424/27/30/33/36/39)
  • Thesis Genetics (GEN-80424/27/30/33/36/39)



  • MSc 1991: Plant Breeding, Wageningen Agricultural University (cum laude)
  • PhD 1996: Wageningen Agricultural University (cum laude) Thesis: An En/Spm based transposable element system for gene isolation in Arabidopsis thaliana. Promotor: Prof. M. Koornneef; co-promotor: Dr. A. Pereira.

Professional experience

  • 1991-1994: Junior researcher, Dept. of Molecular Biology, CPRO-DLO, Wageningen.
  • 1994-1997: NWO-Post-doc, Stationed at Dept. of Molecular Biology, CPRO-DLO, Wageningen.
  • 1997-2001: Researcher, BU Plant Development and Reproduction, Plant Research International, Wageningen.
  • 2001-2008: Assistant professor, Laboratory of Genetics, Plant Sciences Group, Wageningen University.
  • 2008-present: Associate professor, Laboratory of Genetics, Plant Sciences Group, Wageningen University


  • 1997: Best thesis in Plant Breeding, 1996. Stichting Veenhuizen-Tulp Fonds.

Selected peer reviewed publications (out of 41):