Evolutionary genetics

The research programme of the evolutionary genetics group can be characterized as experimental evolution. This approach uses micro-organisms to study mechanisms of evolutionary change.

The suitability of microbes stems from their short generation times, simple culturing, the possibility of storage at (and retrieval from) -80 degrees C, and their excellent possibilities for genetic analysis. Specific topics addressed are senescence in the fungi Podospora and Neurospora (Fons Debets), the role of recombination and mutation (Arjan de Visser), conflict and cooperation at different levels of biological organization (mutualism, somatic fusion and genomic conflicts) (Duur Aanen), quorum sensing (Rolf Hoekstra) and spore killing in Podospora (Klaas Swart, Fons Debets).

These research projects try to answer fundamental questions, but the answers are also relevant for practical problems like infectious diseases and the engineering of enzymes. The fungal senescence research also contributes to a better understanding of ageing in animals because of the involvement of common genetic mechanisms.

Sample projects