Expertise Dick Roelofs VU

Department of Animal Ecology, Institute for Ecological Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

Stress is a major aspect of natural selection in the wild. The extent to which an organism is able to deal with stress determines the limits of its ecological amplitude. We study the responses of soil-living invertebrates when exposed to abiotic stress caused by temperature, drought and potentially toxic contaminants. By studying the whole genome of the soil living invertebrate Orchesella cincta (Collembola) we try to elucidate the genetic mechanism of tolerance to heavy metals. Furthermore, gene expression of the ecotoxicological model organism Folsomia candida is used as a tool to evaluate biological effects of pollution in soils. Therefore we developed a F. candida custom microarray based on the Agilent platform. Information on gene sequences and gene expression profiles is available at our freely accessible database



  • qRT-PCR
  • Markers (microsatellites, AFLPs, RFLP)
  • cDNA library construction
  • Suppression subtractive hybridisation
  • Microarray analysis
  • EST databasing (Partigene pipeline)
  • Yeast one-hybrid analysis
  • Luciferase reporter assays in insect cell lines


  • Biostatistics
  • Immuno Precipitation
  • Electromobility Shift Assays (EMSA)
  • High throughput sequencing
  • Mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF)


  • Focus on: significance of gene regulation in evolution, ecotoxicogenomics
  • Research objects: Soil invertebrates
  • Main research discipline: Evolutionary Ecology, Ecotoxicology, Ecotoxicogenomics

Project Topics:

  • Assessing the living soil. An ecogenomics approach to explore and unlock sustainable life-support systems. - Dick Roelofs, Nico van Straalen
  • Cis-regulatory evolution of metal tolerance in Orchesella cincta - Dick Roelofs
  • Real-time micro-evolution of metal tolerance in Orchesella cincta. - Thierry Janssens, Dick Roelofs, Nico van Straalen, Jacintha Ellers, Kees van Gestel
  • Sexual conflict in the simultaneously hermaphroditic pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis - Joris Koene, Kora Montagne-Wajer, Andries ter Maat, Dick Roelofs, Nico van Straalen, Gregg T. Nagle (University of Texas Medical Branch).