Naamdr. RA Wilschut

OmschrijvingPost Doc
OrganisatieDepartement Plantenwetenschappen
OrganisatieeenheidLaboratorium voor Nematologie
Telefoon+31 317 483 349
Telefoon secretariaat+31 317 482 197
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BezoekadresDroevendaalsesteeg 1
PostadresPostbus 8123
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Ma Di Wo Do Vr


I am an experimental ecologist with a broad interest in plant-soil interactions and global change ecology. My PhD-research in the Department of Terrestrial Ecology of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology was focused on plant-soil interactions of plant species that are latitudinally expanding their range in response to climate change. In this project, I specifically focused on interactions between plants and root-feeding nematodes, but also widened this focus by examining plant-soil feedbacks - plant-driven changes in the soil communitiy that alter the performance of subsequently establishing plant individuals. 

Plant-soil feedbacks then became the common theme in my research, which I continued in the Ecology Group at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Here, my research efforts were focused on 1) determining the biotic drivers (soil biota and plant traits) of plant-soil feedback interactions between conspecific and heterospecific plant species, and 2) examining how global change (specifically, drought and warming) alter plant-soil feedback interactions. 

Currently, I work as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Nematology (WUR) on a project funded by a Postdoc talent grant of the Wageningen Graduate Schools. In this project, I will set up greenhouse and field studies with the aim to improve the understanding of how composition and diversity of plant communities affect the rhizosphere communities that individual community members develop, as well as the feedback effects that subsequently establishing plants experience in these soils. 

Short CV

2013-2018: PhD-candidate (supervisor: Prof. W.H van der Putten), Department of Terrestrial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (Wageningen, The Netherlands) 

2018-2019: Guest researcher/Research Assistant, Department of Terrestrial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (Wageningen, The Netherlands)  

2019-2022: Research Associate (with Prof. M. van Kleunen), Ecology Department, University of Konstanz (Konstanz, Germany)

2022-current: Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Nematology, Wageningen University and Research (Wageningen, The Netherlands)




MSc-research: Epigenetic and phenotypic variation in natural asexual lineages of Taraxacum officinale

After the last ice age, asexual (apomictic) dandelion lineages have expanded throughout central and northern Europe. Some of these lineages can be found as north as central Finland. This question arises how plants without genetic recombination and segregation are able to persist in such a broad array of environmental conditions. Studies in isogenic lines of Arabidopsis have shown that epigenetic variation, such as DNA methylation, can arise spontaneously and can lead to heritable phenotypic differences. In natural asexual populations epigenetic variation therefore could play a role in adaptation to novel environments. In this project we study phenotypic and DNA methylation variation of natural asexual dandelion lineages in order to test the hypothesis that autonomous epigenetic variation can lead to heritable phenotypic variation in natural systems.

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