PhD Graduates

We are proud to announce the graduations and upcoming defences of Animal Breeding & Genomics PhD candidates.

- Latest update: January 2021 -

Langqing Liu

On Wednesday 17 February 2021 at 16:00, Langqing Liu will defend his thesis entitled ‘A looking glass for pig evolution: comparative and speciation genomics of Suidae’.


Developments in sequencing technology have revolutionized our understanding of evolutionary biology and have led to the concept evolutionary genomics. Continuous efforts to sequence additional species have generated a comprehensive dataset for biologists to study the evolution of the diversity of life, to explore underlying biological mechanisms and to aid conservation efforts. In this thesis, Suidae (the family of pigs) was demonstrated to be a uniquely enriched system for investigating patterns and processes at the intersection of speciation and adaptation.

The evolutionary history of Suidae was described and a complex model of speciation with hybridization was examined. The critically endangered pygmy hog was used as model in the population study to reconstruct demographic trajectory and evaluate its genetic consequences. A de novo genome assembly of Sus cebifrons was used to characterize the evolution of genome architecture underlying the rapid speciation and adaptation of Sus. The importance of a fine-structured reference genome was also highlighted for the interpretation of selective signatures.

Zhou Wu

On Tuesday 23 February 2021 at 16:00, Zhou Wu will defend her PhD thesis entitled ‘Small chicken, big story: detection of the genetic background of dwarfism in chicken using genomic analysis’.


Dwarfism is an important trait in agriculture applied in animal breeding. Dwarfism is a condition characterized by restricted growth. Several forms of dwarfism in chicken have been described, for their distinct types and different extent of size reduction. Nowadays, dwarf chickens (bantam) have become an important component of the Dutch chicken population, which encompasses a recent history of human-mediated crossbreeding. However, the genetic basis underlying these dwarf phenotypes is not well understood.

The aim of this thesis was to study the genetic basis of dwarf phenotypes in chickens. To identify dwarf causative genes, the study focussed on two types of dwarfism in chickens, the autosomal dwarfism (adw) and the bantam. Results include novel candidate genes (e.g. TMEM263 and HMGA2) responsible for dwarf phenotypes. Results furthermore show how human-mediated crossbreeding may influence the genomic landscape of Dutch chicken population in a complex manner.