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 (insects) and plants (i.e. 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.

Below is a selection of research projects currently performed at Laboratory of Genetics. In many of these projects there are possibilities for BSc and MSc students to perform a thesis. If interested please feel free to contact the responsible researcher directly. A more up-to-date list of thesis topics can be found here:, or have a look at our Genetics Thesis & Internship Brightspace (use self-enroll in the Discover section of Brightspace). If in doubt, please contact Bart Pannebakker, the GEN Thesis coordinator at

Research Themes                                  Organisms

    • Organization of Heritable Variation
    • Genetics and Levels of Selection
    • Genetics of Adaptation
    • Animals
    • Plants
    • Fungi and Bacteria
Mariska Beekman Role of endosymbionts in biocontrol of greenhouse aphids
Giannoula Bogka Effects of climate and diversification on population structures and host selection behaviour
Helena Donner Effects of aphid endosymbionts on parasitoid biocontrol
Bart Pannebakker Optimizing biological control through individual based modelling and genetic algorithms
Bart Pannebakker Using genetics for better biological control
Roel van Bezouw Exploring epistatic interactions in natural genetic variation for photosynthesis
René Boesten Exploiting copy number variation for rapid improvement of abiotic stress tolerance in crops
Giannoula Bogka Effects of climate and diversification on population structures and host selection behaviour
Francesco Garassino Resolving the extreme photosynthetic efficiency of grey mustard (Hirschfeldia incana)
Phuong Nguyen Identification, elucidation and validation of genes underlying Arabidopsis photosynthesis QTLs
Sijmen Schoustra Genetics and evolution of toxin production by Aspergillus flavus
Tom Theeuwen Unravelling genetic variation for cyto-nuclear interaction in Arabidopsis thaliana
Jitpanu Yamjabok Genetic analysis of heavy metal accumulation and tolerance in Noccaea caerulescens
Sijmen Schoustra One health consequences of circularity
Ben Auxier Non-self recognition loci in Basidiomycetes
Eric Bastiaans Evolution of cheating and allorecognition in fungi
Mathijs Nieuwenhuis Mitochondrial genome evolution in a symbiotic fungus
Lennart van de Peppel Evolution and ecological transitions of a fungus cultivated by termites
Margo Spelt - Wisselink Conflict and cooperation among Termitomyces fungi cultivated by termites
Sabine Vreeburg Re-domesticating the termite fungus
Eveline Snelders Antifungal resistance development in a human pathogenic fungus
Sarah Duxbury Ecology and evolution of plasmid-mediated antimicrobial resistance (pAMR) transfer in the chicken microbiome
Diego Pesce Why sex? Testing the benefits of recombination with an antibiotic-resistance enzyme
Philip Ruelens Gene expression and the tempo and mode of protein evolution
Manja Saebelfeld Predicting evolutionary pathways to β-lactam resistance
Sijmen Schoustra Experimental tests of the competitive niche exclusion principle
Sijmen Schoustra Linking species composition to overall ecosystem function in communities of multiple species
Sijmen Schoustra Genetics and evolution of toxin production by Aspergillus flavus