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Research GELIFES GREEN Salles Lab

Current members

At a glance:

Joana Falcao Salles – Professor – microbial community ecology
Anna Voulgari-Kokota – Postdoc – insect ecology
Xiu Jia – Postdoc – rare soil bacteriome
Jolanda Brons – Research technician – molecular biology
Jan Veldsink – Technician – molecular biology
Yvonne van Katwijck – Secretary
Pina Brinker – PhD student – insect-microbiome symbiosis
Qian Chen – PhD student – AMF-bacteria interaction
Edisa Garcia Hernandez – PhD student – soil-root-insect interaction
Kiran Gurung – PhD student – insect microbiome
Gert Hofstede – PhD student – anaerobic biomass degradation
Xipeng Liu – PhD student – microbial invasion
Panji Mawarda – PhD student – Bacillus invasion
Els van der Goot – PKU-gut microbiome interaction
Yanfang Wang – PhD student – lignocellulose degrading consortia
Tianci Zhao – PhD student – plant microbiome interaction
Maaike Vogel – PhD student
Marrit van der Bruggen – PhD student
Siyu Mei – PhD student
Stefanie Vink – Guest researcher – plant-soil interactions
Thomas Hackl – Guest researcher


Joana Falcao Salles

Joana Falcao Salles – Professor

I discovered my passion for microbial ecology during my undergraduate studies, in Brazil, where I worked on nitrogen- fixing bacteria associated with sugarcane and developed that further during my PhD (Leiden University, NL, 2005) and my 3 year postdoc in Lyon, France. Since 2008 I am working at the University of Groningen, where I initiated a very enthusiastic, fun, diverse and multidisciplinary group that combines ecological and evolutionary theories to understand how microbial communities are formed and how they impact their environment, generating knowledge relevant for both fundamental and applied research.


Anna Voulgari-Kokota

Anna Voulgari-Kokota – Postdoc

My interest lies within insect ecology, focusing on how insect microbiota contributes to host health. I study the insect-microbe relationships as dynamic processes influencing insect physiology, fitness, immunity and evolution. I am also interested in investigating the microbial acquisition routes which shape the natural microbiota of insects and their environments.
Currently, I am working on the InsectFeed project, an interdisciplinary scheme to value chain development for insects used as feed.

Xiu Jia

Xiu Jia – Postdoc

The focus of my research is to investigate which processes regulate rare species persistence and dynamics across space and time. I will do this by studying soil bacterial communties on the salt marsh chronosequence on the island of Schiermonnikoog, the Netherlands. Insights from this research will promote a better understanding of the processes regulating microbial community structure and function.

Jolanda Brons

Jolanda Brons – Research technician

I have been a molecular biology research technician at the University of Groningen since 2001. My role within the group is quite diverse, next to supporting the group, running the lab and performing field work I also have my own research projects. In my current research project I am focusing on virulence genes in E. coli in urinary tract infections.

Jan Veldsink

Jan Veldsink – Technician

I am a molecular biology technician in the Salles lab. At the end of my study to become a lab technician I did a project at the University of Groningen. After that I was asked to do a 10-month project – that was in 1998 and I’m still working at the University. When I’m not working I like to be at home with my wife and 2 sons. I also like sports, to watch but also to do myself.

Yvonne van Katwijck

Yvonne van Katwijck – Secretary

I am a secretary for all 3 clusters within the Microbial Ecology group: Microbial Community Ecology/Falcao Salles lab, Microbial Ecology & Evolution/De Vos lab and Virus Ecology and Evolution/Lequime lab.
As a secretary I support staff, students and guests with all kinds of administrative stuff, like meetings, applications, mail, office supplies and so on.
I am also a secretary for the Plant Ecophysiology group of prof dr J.T.M. Elzenga and for the Groningen University Fund.
After work I keep busy with my house, (big) garden and my chickens.
I also like to bake, I’m well known for my cakes & cookies!

Pina Brinker

Pina Brinker – PhD student

My research is focused on the evolutionary and ecological aspects of interactions between organisms. I’m eager to integrate people into my research and if you would be interested to join my adventure of understanding interactions please feel free to contact me. As a supervisor I have the will to help you develop into an independent, enthusiastic researcher.

Qian Chen

Qian Chen – PhD student

There are more studies showing that AMF and plant growth promoting bacteria increase plant growth and salt tolerance under salinity stress. AMF can influence rhizosphere bacterial community composition and may also select some a certain number of bacterial group that cooperate with them to interact with plant. My research is focused on interaction between arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and bacteria in promoting plant growth under salinity stress. I want to know which bacterial communities interact with AM fungi under saline stress.

Edisa Garcia Hernandez

Edisa Garcia Hernandez – PhD student

My PhD research aim is to disentangle how plants, soil animals and soil microorganisms respond to environmental changes, and how interactions among them are affected by these changes. If you find this topic interesting to do an internship or project with me, send me a message!

Kiran Gurung

Kiran Gurung – PhD student

What kind of influence do microorganisms have on their insect hosts in terms of their life history? I study this question using microbes of Drosophila suzukii, an invasive insect pest of soft fruits. In case your interests overlap with my research question and you are looking for any short-term or long-term project possibilities, feel free to drop me an email.

Gert Hofstede

Gert Hofstede – PhD student

Earthquake-free natural gas I will do my research on the (an)aerobic degradation of recalcitrant biomass. By cleverly combining this with CO2 hydrogenation we will produce more biogas via CO2 + 4H2 à CH4 + 2H2O (-165 kJmol-1); the H2 in this reaction comes from an excess of green electricity. In this way we will make a contribution to the climate objective 2030.

Xipeng Liu

Xipeng Liu - PhD student

Microbial invasion is widespread in nature. It refers to the process that microorganisms were introduced outside its biogeographic boundaries into a new microbial community. In my PhD project, I am studying several fundamental questions regarding microbial invasion in the soil ecosystem. What mechanisms underlie a successful invasion? How invaded microbes shape microbial community structure and diversity? Will microbial invasion affect soil ecosystem processes? Insights from this research will progress our understanding of the role of microbial invasion in the ecosystem function and stability.

Panji Cahya Mawarda

Panji Mawarda – PhD student

The thing about soil is – the more you dig into it, the more you realize that it’s not just dirt but a plethora of microorganisms that are of paramount importance for ecosystems. I am fortunate enough to do a project which dissects the impact of introducing microbial inoculant (currently using Bacillus) to these microscopic communities. From changes in their composition and structure to their effect on soil ecosystem functioning, everything about this project is simply intriguing in its intricacies.

Els van der Goot

Els van der Goot – PhD student

I’m interested in the link between the microbiome, brain and behaviour. I study this link under a pathological condition called phenylketonuria (PKU), which is a metabolic disorder in which there is an inability to convert phenylalanine into tyrosine. This can lead to behavioural changes as deficits in learning and memory, increase in depression- and anxiety-like behaviours and sleep loss. I want to examine to what extend these behavioural problems are related to the microbial communities present in the gut in PKU mice.

Yanfang Wang

Yanfang Wang – PhD student

My main interests are in environment protection and microbes and the interaction between human emotion and health. My PhD project examines the synergism in lignocellulose degrading microbial consortia. I am trying to find out how two bacteria and one fungus can cooperate to improve biomass degradation. This is very interesting and of great value for both fundamental and applied research.

Tianci Zhao

Tianci Zhao – PhD student

My research is based on the potatoMETAbiome project. I am interested in the interactions between plants and soil microbes (bacteria, fungi, phages, protozoa). I want to find the microbial community that can have more beneficial interactions with plants, thereby reducing the dependence of plants on fertilizers and pesticides. And my research aim is to link the microbiome to plant breeding.

Maaike Vogel

Maaike Vogel – PhD student

For my PhD, I am studying the health and immunity of the housefly and the influence of different rearing conditions thereon. Houseflies have great potential as sustainable protein source, since they can be reared on leftover streams such as green waste from the food industry. Therefore, the interest in mass rearing of these types of insects is increasing. For optimization and monitoring of health and immunity of houseflies in mass rearing, more species-specific knowledge on their immunity is needed. This project is part of the InsectFeed consortium in which mass rearing of black soldier flies and houseflies for use as a more sustainable poultry feed is studied using an interdisciplinary approach.

Marrit van der Bruggen

Marrit van der Bruggen – PhD student

Siyu Mei

Siyu Mei - PhD student

My Ph.D. research aims to study the eco-evolutionary principles driving soil microbiome adaptations to environmental change. In the project, I will verify whether the response of the soil microbiome to disturbances is in accordance with the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, in a gradient from coastal to terrestrial soil ecosystems, by doing metagenomic approaches and statistical analysis on the soil microbiome from the island of Schiermonnikoog.

Thomas Hackl

Thomas Hackl - Guest researcher

Stefanie Vink

Stefanie Vink – Guest researcher

I am currently working on the potatoMETAbiome project. My primary interest is in assessing the relationship between microbial and above-ground plant communities in semi-natural ecosystems and low-input agriculture.
If you are interested in joining me on the potatoMETAbiome project or want to do a general project in microbial soil ecology or collaborate on a bioinformatics project, get in touch.

Last modified:18 February 2021 10.26 a.m.