Section Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Animal Ecology,Institute of Ecological Sciences Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

A major part of an organism’s response to changing environmental conditions is explicable as variable expressions of plastic traits. Phenotypic plasticity is the property of a given genotype to produce different physiological or morphological phenotypes in response to changing environmental conditions. The main goal of our group is to understand the functioning of individuals under environmental change by looking at genetic variation and gene expression patterns underlying phenotypic plasticity. To answer these questions we use two separate study systems: we investigate the genetic mechanism of temperature-induced plasticity in the collembolan species Orchesella cincta and Folsomia candida; and we study which genes are involved in the lack of metabolic plasticity in various hymenopteran parasitoids in response to fluctuating food conditions.

Project topics:

  • Evolutionary physiology of temperature adaptation
  • The evolution of plastic traits: from genes to fitness
  • Impact of phenotypic plasticity on community stability in a warming world
  • Parasitism and the evolutionary loss of lipogenesis