Institution Ghent University (UGent)
Department Biology – Protistology and Aquatic Ecology
Address Krijgslaan 281 S8, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Telephone +32/9/264.85.01
Fax +32/9/264.85.99

The research group Protistology and Aquatic Ecology of the Department of Biology at Ghent University studies a) microbial biodiversity and its role in freshwater and marine ecosystem functioning; b) the biology and biodiversity of protists, in particular of diatoms, and c) protist remains (microfossils, pigments and fossil DNA) as biological indicators to understand past climate and environmental changes from sedimentary records. This research is carried out in the framework of national and international collaborations (ESF, DWTC, FWO, BOF, …).
The laboratory has a long-standing expertise in several protist groups, in particular diatoms. Ecophysiological, molecular and genetic studies of laboratory cultures, and microcosmos experiments complement field-based approaches. To this end, a culture collection of diatoms and other protists is maintained at the laboratory. Molecular methods are applied to studies of microbial community composition, dynamics and interactions in aquatic environments. Among these techniques are DGGE fingerprinting of PCR amplified rRNA genes, the use of clone libraries for characterising prokaryotic and eukaryotic communities in lakes and ponds, and real-time PCR.

Expertise relevant to this project includes field and laboratory approaches to study the microbial diversity, food web structure and interactions with higher trophic levels.
Selection of 5 recent publications
  1. Van der Gucht, K., K. Cottenie, K. Muylaert, N. Vloemans, S. Cousin, S. Declerck, E. Jeppesen, J-M. Conde-Porcuna, K. Schwenk, G. Zwart, H. Degans, W. Vyverman and L. De Meester. 2007. The power of species sorting: local factors drive bacterial community composition over a wide range of spatial scales. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104 (51): 20404-20400.
  2. De Wever, A., K. Van der Gucht, K. Muylaert, S. Cousin and W. Vyverman 2008. Clone library analysis reveals an unusual composition and strong habitat partitioning of pelagic bacterial communities in lake tanganyika. Aquat Microb Ecol 50:113-122
  3. van Gremberghe, I., J. Van Wichelen, K. Van der Gucht, P. Vanormelingen, S. D'hondt, C. Boutte, A. Wilmotte and W. Vyverman. 2008. Covariation between zooplankton community composition and cyanobacterial dynamics in Lake Blaarmeersen (Belgium) FEMS Microbiol Ecol 63, 222-237.
  4. Dejenie, T., T. Asmelash, S. Rousseaux, T. Gebregiorgis, A. Gebrekidan, M. Gebrehiwot, J. Nyssen, J. Deckers, K. Van der Gucht, W. Vyverman, L. De Meester and S. Declerck. 2009. Impact of the fish Garra on the ecology of reservoirs and the occurrence of Microcystis blooms in semi-arid tropical highlands: an experimental assessment using enclosures. Freshwater Biology 54(8): 1605-1615.
  5. Verleyen, E., K. Sabbe, D.A. Hodgson, S. Cousin, S. Grubisic, A. Taton, A. Wilmotte, A. De Wever, K. Van der gucht and W. Vyverman. The structuring role of climate-related environmental factors on Antarctic microbial mat communities. Aquatic Microbial Ecology (in press)