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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
Jolanda Brons – Research technician – molecular biology
Jan Veldsink – Technician – molecular biology
Yvonne van Katwijck – Secretary
Gert Hofstede – PhD student – anaerobic biomass degradation
Xipeng Liu – PhD student – microbial invasion
Tianci Zhao – PhD student – plant microbiome interaction
Maaike Vogel – PhD student
Marrit van der Bruggen – PhD student
Siyu Mei – PhD student
Maureen Baars – PhD student
Genesiska – PhD student
Yiqin He – PhD student
Jyotsna Nepal - PhD student
Elisa Pais Pellizzer - PhD student
Huayu Dong - PhD student
Stefanie Vink – Guest researcher – plant-soil interactions

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.

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 4 clusters within the Microbial Ecology group:
Microbial Community Ecology/Falcao Salles lab
Microbial Ecology & Evolution/De Vos lab
Virus Ecology & Evolution/Lequime lab
Eco-Evolutionary Bioinformatics/Hackl 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 and for the Groningen University Fund.
After work I keep busy with my house, (big) garden and my animals (Beestenboel)!
I also make earrings for my webshop The Earbell Factory.

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.

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.

Maureen Baars

Maureen Baars - PhD student

Host-microbiome interactions can be mutually beneficial; affecting host physiology, behaviour, fitness and health. Therefore, understanding the microbiota and its interactions with the host is vital to understand animal physiology, ecology and evolution.
I’m interested in the functional roles of the avian microbiome, particularly the feather and preen gland microbiomes. My PhD project aims to better understand the effects of environmental factors, such as habitat humidity and sociality, on microbiome composition and microbial production of volatile organic compounds and antimicrobial compounds.


Genesiska - PhD student

Plant microbiota research has improved substantially in recent years, with a focus on the diverse community of plant-associated bacteria known as the plant microbiome. Plant microbiome research include linking microbial ecology to the biology and function of the plant host, as well as seeing microorganisms as a source of functionalities. What are your thoughts on the potato microbiome? Which factor has a dominant influence on the microbiome? Is plant genotype, growth stages, growing season, physiological state and tissue type of the plant, or agricultural practices ? In my recent phd project, I am eager to work on how to understand the main drivers of microbiome in potato.

Yiqin He

Yiqin He - PhD student

Compared with the larger (visible) species, e.g., plants and animals, research on evaluating the impact of microbial invasion is less. Meanwhile, more and more microbes are used as a sustainable solution for soil bioremediation and bio-fertilization.
Therefore, there is an urgent need to evaluate the impact of those microbial invasions on the soil microbial communities.
In my project, I will learn the effects caused by using bacterial inoculation in soils. Results of the following research will give more understanding of microbial invasions.

Jyotsna Nepal

Jyotsna Nepal - PhD student

Elisa Pais Pellizzer

Elisa Pais Pellizzer - PhD student

Contamination of petroleum and its derivatives in soils may interfere with several ecosystems. In view of this, I'm applying different strategies for bioremediation of an oil-contaminated soil. The soil from an oil refinery was placed under microcosm conditions in order to investigate the impact of biostimulation, bioaugmentation, and biostimulation/ bioaugmentation treatments in comparison with natural attenuation. We aim to investigate the degradation products, detoxification and the microbial diversity (bacteria and fungi) present in the different treatments. Therefore, understanding the ecotoxicological effects and the main taxonomic groups involved will be helpful in future bioremediation of contaminated sites.

Huayu Dong

Huayu Dong - PhD student

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:01 November 2023 11.37 a.m.