Master of Science: Biology
Major domain: ‘Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity’
Minor domains: ‘Ecology and Nature Conservation’ and ‘Integrative Physiology’
PhD in Sciences: Biology
Joined the group in October 2016
Defended PhD in January 2021
PhD project: Molecular evolution and cophylogeny of rhabdocoel flatworms as a case study on the acquisition of endosymbiosis.
In the course of evolution, many different species have independently made the switch from a free-living lifestyle towards endosymbiosis, i.e. living within the body of another, larger species. However, not much is known on what happens at the molecular level when a species makes such a bold transition. For instance, some studies report changes in mutation rates and gene order, but these reports are anecdotical in nature, and even contradictory across different taxonomic groups. Within Rhabdocoela, an extremely diverse group of flatworms, the transition towards endosymbiosis has happened three different times in very-closely-related families. As such, studying molecular evolution within this group provides me with an ideal test case to draw more general conclusions on this matter.