Namedr. MJW Jeuken

Job details
OrganizationDepartment of Plant Sciences
Organization UnitPlant Breeding
Phone+31 317 484 157
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Phone 2
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Visiting addressDroevendaalsesteeg 1
Postal addressPostbus 386
Ancillary activities
  • No ancillary activities -
    Apr 2022 - Present


As a plant scientist, I am most motivated by genetic and evolutionary puzzles, which relates from deviant segregations of traits in populations to evolutionay signatures in gene sequences.

During my study of Biology at the University of Utrecht, I focused on genetics and did my MSc thesis work at the labs of Sjef Smeekens, Sjeng Horbach and Norman Terry (UC Berkeley).

My PhD graduation at the chair group Plant Breeding at WUR was under the supervision of Piet Stam and Pim Lindhout and concerned the exploration for resistance genes of a wild lettuce species (Lactuca saligna) against downy mildew disease in lettuce cultivation.

My current research focuses on the genetics behind biotic stress resistance, introgression issues and reproductive barriers between a crop and its wild relatives. In my model crop, lettuce (Lactuca sativa), I study the origin and mechanisms of resistance to downy mildew in a 'nonhost' species (L. saligna) and the nearly complete reproductive isolation between lettuce crop and this wild relative, L. saligna.

Within the discipline of biotic stress resistance, resistance in nonhost species is arguably the most interesting but least understood type of resistance. The wild species, L. saligna, is completely resistant to all downy mildew isolates and therefore it is considered a nonhost species. As a rule, related host and non-host plant species are genetically too much diverged from each other and are not crossable or their F1 is completely sterile. Exceptionally, L. saligna is crossable with L. sativa  and the F1-hybrid is slightly fertile (2% seed set). These interspecific progenies offer a unique opportunity to study the resistance at the genetic level. The final aim is to unravel the genetic network of  this complete resistance against downy mildew and to introgress the resistant gene-variants in lettuce cultivars.

Furthermore, I use the same interspecific cross to study the adverse effects of this interspecific hybridisation. Plant hybrid incompatibilities, like hybrid inviability and sterility, in F1 generation or derived progenies (like F2 or BC1) allow me to elucidate components of evolutionary diversification, speciation and reproductive barriers between these species.

Both phenomena, reproductive isolation and resistance of nonhost species, are genetically complex traits. A good understanding of the causes and consequences of these complex traits is essential for insights in speciation and further application in plant breeding.

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Teacher of  'Plant Breeding', PBR-22303 and Pre-breeding PBR-21803.

Teacher of 'Scientific SkillsTraing',  part of  YPS-60315 - Plant Breeding Design Cluster (online)  in MSc Plantveredeling (online)

Studyadvisor MSc Plant sciences & Plant Biotechnology, specialisation Plant breeding

Supervisor MSc thesis-projects and internships

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