Protistology and Aquatic Ecology Laboratory

The Protistology and Aquatic Ecology Laboratory, led by professors Vyverman and Sabbe, has been involved in research topics on the functioning and evolution of marine ecosystems, focusing on autotrophic unicellular eukaryotes, called protists. They aim to have a better understanding of the consequences of climate and environmental changes on protist communities, in combination with additional influence of dispersal. Besides community-level approaches, studies at the population and organismal level are also performed. To this end, they focus on dispersal and selection in model species of microalgae, as well as on life- and cell-cycles, evolution and diversity of diatoms. Other research topics include the evolution of mating systems, sexual behavior, reproductive barriers between closely related species and cryptic variation. More applied research focusses at the metabolic regulation of microalgae, interactions between algae and pathogens, and the exploitation of algae biodiversity to contribute to culturing algae in marine biotechnology.