Research of the Biosystematics Group

Research in the Biosystematics Group is focused on the origin and maintenance of plant and insect biodiversity, above and below species level. We investigate speciation, domestication and plant-animal interactions, and use phylogenetic patterns to test hypotheses on the underlying processes. We apply a comparative approach to study species-level systematics of insects and plants, including crops, and the geological, ecological and molecular processes that have shaped existing biodiversity in particular clades.

The Biosystematics Group is affiliated to the Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity Naturalis (NCB) which houses most biological collections in The Netherlands, and which will offer facilities for ancient DNA and DNA barcoding. Our research is incorporated in the research program of the Graduate Schools Experimental Plant Sciences (EPS).

Plant speciation processes

Founded on phylogeny reconstruction, we study geological and ecological drivers of speciation. Moreover, we test hypotheses on how molecular evolutionary processes and the appearance of life-history features have shaped the origin and demise of diversity in selected plant groups.

Molecular evolution

The evolution of genes, their paralogy, positive selection on individual residues, and (shifts in) nucleotide substitution rates, are studied as part of collaborative projects. We also focus on the optimisation of DNA extraction from (ancient) herbarium specimens (EU FP7 SYNTHESYS).