Rolf Hoekstra


Rolf Hoekstra

Professor of genetics,
Former head of the Laboratory of Genetics

Telephone:(+) 31 317 484619

Fax:(+) 31 317 418094

Research topics:

I am interested in genetics, especially in understanding the role genetics plays in evolutionary processes. On the one hand genetic systems have been shaped by evolutionary forces, on the other hand they constrain evolutionary change. I am working on a variety of topics within these general themes:

  • How can we understand the evolution and success of genetic systems characterized by 2 sexes (male and female)?
  • What are the genetic determinants of senescence and why do some fungal species senesce much faster than others? (see e.g. EU project MiMAGE)
  • How is somatic fusion prevented in fungi and what is the evolutionary significance of this somatic incompatibility?
  • How is the rate of genetic adaptation affected by the genetic system (diploidy versus haploidy; sex versus asex)?
  • How can we understand the evolution and maintenance of microbial communication systems (quorum sensing)?

I try to combine experimental research (using micro-organisms such as the fungi Aspergillus, Neurospora and Podospora, bacteria (E.coli) and viruses) with mathematical modeling and computer simulation. We use micro-organisms (both eukaryote and prokaryote) as experimental organisms because of their great advantages in genetic and evolutionary research: easy culturing in high numbers, short generation times, small genomes, can be revived after storage in a freezer.


  • Evolutie Biologie (GEN10803)
  • Populatie ecologie CWE-20806 (onderdeel genetica)
  • Biodiversity CWE-10806 (onderdeel genetica)
  • Capita Selecta Genetics GEN-5040X
  • Capita Selecta Evolutionary Biology GEN-5090X

Selected Publications:

  • Stearns , S.C. and R.F.Hoekstra (2005). Evolution, an introduction. 2nd edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford
  • Hoekstra, R.F. (2005). Why sex is good. Nature 434: 571-573
  • Czaran, T.L. and R.F.Hoekstra (2004). Evolution of sexual asymmetry. BMC Evolutionary Biology 4: 34
  • Maas, M.F.P.M., de Boer, H.J., Debets, A.J.M. & Hoekstra,R.F. (2004). The mitochondrial plasmid pAL2-1 reduces calorie restriction mediated lifespan extension in the filamentous fungus Podospora anserina . Fungal Genetics and Biology 41: 865-871
  • Dalstra, H. J. P., Swart, K., Debets, A. J. M., Saupe, S. J. & Hoekstra, R. F. (2003). Sexual transmission of the [Het-s] prion leads to meiotic drive in Podospora anserina. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 100: 6616–6621
  • Bruggeman, J., Debets, A.J.M., Wijngaarden, P.J., deVisser, J.A.G.M. and R.F.Hoekstra (2003) Sex Slows Down the Accumulation of Deleterious Mutations in the Homothallic Fungus Aspergillus nidulans. Genetics 164: 479-485
  • Czaran, T.L. and R.F.Hoekstra (2003). Killer-sensitive coexistence in metapopulations of micro-organisms. Proc.R.Soc. Lond. B 270: 1373-1378
  • Hoekstra, R.F. (2003). Power in the Genome. Who Suppresses the Outlaw? In: Genetic and Cultural Evolution of Cooperation . (Ed. P. Hammerstein). MIT Press
  • Czaran, T. L., Hoekstra, R. F., and Pagie, L. 2002. Chemical warfare between microbes promotes biodiversity. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99: 786-790
  • Van der Gaag, M, Debets, AJM, Oosterhof, J, Slakhorst, M, Thijssen, JAGM and RF Hoekstra (2000). Spore-killing meiotic drive factors in a natural population of the fungus Podospora anserina . Genetics 156: 593-605
  • De Visser,J.A.G.M., Hoekstra,R.F., Van den Ende,H. (1997). An experimental test for synergistic epistasis and its application in Chlamydomonas. Genetics 145: 815-819
  • Hammerstein,P., Hoekstra,R.F. (1995). Mutualism on the move. Nature 376: 121-122
  • Zwaan,B.J., Bijlsma,R., Hoekstra,R.F. (1995). Direct selection on lifespan in Drosophila melanogaster . Evolution 49: 649-659
  • Hoekstra,R.F. (1990). The evolution of male - female dimorphism: older than sex? J.Genet. 69: 11-15 (special issue in memory of the late Suresh D.Jayakar)
  • Hoekstra,R.F. (1987). The evolution of sexes. in: The Evolution of Sex and its Consequences, pp 59 - 91. S.C.Stearns (ed.).Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel
  • Hoekstra,R.F. (1982). On the asymmetry of sex. Evolution of mating types in isogamous populations. J.theor.Biol. 98, 427-451


  • Ph.D. 1978: State University Groningen, the Netherlands
  • Thesis titled “Natural selection in varying environments”
  • 1978 - 1979: Postdoctoral Fellow (with prof. J.Maynard Smith), University of Sussex, UK. Supported by NWO
  • 1979 - 1983: Assistant Professor, Department of Genetics, State University Groningen
  • 1983 - 1989: Associate Professor, Department of Genetics, State University Groningen
  • 1988: 4 months visiting professor at the University of Bielefeld, Germany 
  • 1989 - present: Full Professor of Genetics, Wageningen University 
  • 1994: 6 months visiting professor at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Collegium Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
  • 2000: 4 months visiting professor Univ. of Arizona , Tucson