Specialisation Development and Adaptation

This specialisation focusses on individual organisms.

What will you learn?

In the Development and Adaptation specialisation, student learn to use biomechanics, behavioural observations, genetic principles, biochemical analysis, molecular and physiological techniques to study how individual organisms, particularly plants and animals, adapt to their biotic and abiotic marine and terrestrial environment, both during development and in adult life.


Students follow two specialisation courses. You have to choose at least one course from RO1A (courses about literature and scientific analysis) and one course from RO1B (courses that develop research skills relevant for the scientific discipline of the specialisation). The specialisation offers more than two courses, providing opportunities for further specialisation. Students also have the option of following more courses related to their specialisation within their free choice or to perform a second thesis research project.

Comparative Biology and Systematics (BIS): The course focuses on the analysis of comparative data, at and above the species level. Molecular Aspects of Bio-interactions (PHP): The course focuses on the molecular basis of the interactions of plants with attackers and beneficial organisms.
Marine Animal Ecology (MAE): This courses focuses on the mechanisms of adaptation to environmental changes in marine animals and how these mechanisms influence the ecosystem. Genetic Analysis Trends and Concepts (GEN): This advanced course explains the most important genetic concepts to unravel and understand complex biological phenomena.
Vertebrate Structure and Function (EZO) In the lectures, an overview will be given of the origin, evolution, diversity and adaptive radiation of the vertebrates. Functional Zoology (EZO): This courses addresses basis skills required for research in functional zoology and related fields.
Regulation of Plant Development (MOB): Molecular and cell biological of developmental processes in plants will be discussed. Behavioural Ecology (BHE): The course provides insight into how evolution trough natural selection shapes behaviour of animals.
Plant-Microbe Interactions (PHP): The course focuses on the physiological, biochemical, molecular-genetic, genomic and ecological aspects of interactions between plants and pathogenic microbes. Development Biology of Animals (EZO): This course is designed to introduce you to the practical aspects of animal development.
Plant Plasticity and Adaptation (PPH): The course focuses on mechanisms, regulation and genetic principles of plasticity in structure and physiology needed for plants to adapt to environmental variations and extremes.
Biomimetics (EZO) In biomimetics, the structure and function of biological systems are studied to inspire the design of materials, surfaces, instruments, buildings, etc.

Thesis and internship

In the first or second year you will start your own research (thesis) in one of the following chair groups:

You can find examples of thesis subjects at the bottom of this page.

In the second half of your second year you will go on an internship. This can be a project at a company or organization outside Wageningen University.

Thesis examples

Chair group Nematology

  • Virulence of soil-borne pathogens and invasion by Prunus serotina
  • A ribosomal DNA-based framework for the detection and quantification of stress-sensitive nematode families in terrestrial habitats

Chair group Phytopathology

  • Characterization of a wheat HSP70 gene and its expression in response to stripe rust infection and abiotic stress
  • Infections of Arabidopsis thaliana by Phytophthora parasitica and identification of variation in host specificity

Chair group Genetics

  • Changes in nuclear structure during wheat endosperm development
  • Arabidopsis natural variation: functional analysis of genes controlling adaption