Research of the Laboratory of Genetics

The Laboratory of Genetics investigates causes and consequences of natural genetic variation within species. Because genetic variation plays an essential role in ecological and evolutionary processes, we ask ecologically and evolutionary motivated research questions.

The interrelationship between genetics, heredity and evolution is the focus of research of the Laboratory of Genetics. Central is the study of genetic variation that ranges from the processes that produce it (mutation, recombination), to the factors that have shaped its architecture in the past, and to the factors and processes that determine its fate. Our current research focus can be captured in the following three themes, (1) Generating variation; (2) Genetics and levels of selection, and (3) Genetics of adaptation. Within these themes we can retain and expand on our national and international reputation as a key research group with a unique focus on fundamental and applied aspects of genetics and heredity.

 

Because evolutionary theory applies to all life forms, and heredity is a key characteristic of life, the genetic and evolutionary analysis of biodiversity requires a broad range of model species that span the major kingdoms. Therefore, the Laboratory of Genetics uses prokaryotes (bacteria) and eukaryotes from yeast, fungi, to animals (Drosophila melanogaster) and plants (Arabidopsis thaliana). All our systems are characterized by the ease of laboratory rearing and by the availability of a plethora of genetic and phenotypic tools for experimental manipulation.

 

Our strength is that we study both fundamental mechanism of genetics as well as the more inclusive mechanisms of heredity (e.g. cytogenetics, epigenetics, regulation of gene expression) and how this influences the genotype-phenotype map. We do this within the unifying framework of evolutionary theory and we focus on fundamental questions and concepts rather than on specific phenotypes or organisms. With our research we both test and further develop the theories and hypotheses of genetics, heredity and evolution, while creating and using opportunities for applying our research to relevant societal problems and questions.

 

Genetics is an essential discipline for biology. Our group is one of the few nationally acknowledged groups that centres its research and teaching around genetics and heredity. Our strength is that we study both fundamental mechanism of genetics as well as the more inclusive mechanisms of heredity (e.g. cytogenetics, epigenetics, regulation of gene expression) and how this influences the genotype-phenotype map. We do this within the unifying framework of evolutionary theory and we focus on fundamental questions and concepts rather than on specific phenotypes or organisms. With our research we both test and further develop the theories and hypotheses of genetics, heredity and evolution, while creating and using opportunities for applying our research to relevant societal problems and questions.