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Ongoing research

The movies on these pages give an impression of current and completed research projects within the institute and their societal impact.

MARM project

January 2021 - In an era of rapid climate change there is a pressing need to understand whether and how organisms are able to adapt to novel environments. Such understanding is hampered by a major divide in the life sciences between mechanistic and eco-evolutionary approaches of adaptation. In this project we aim to set up a new, mechanism-oriented framework that views the architecture of adaptation, rather than the resulting responses, as the primary target of natural selection. This change in perspective will yield fundamentally new insights, necessitating the re-evaluation of many seemingly well-established eco-evolutionary principles.

PRISM project

August 2019 - Understanding the neurobiology of many neuropsychiatric disorders - such as schizophrenia, major depression and Alzheimer’s - will require novel quantitative biological approaches. Currently, clinical diagnosis is still dependent on the convention-based clustering of qualitative clinical symptoms. The PRISM consortium is implementing an innovative transdiagnostic approach to link symptoms to biology using a quantitative approach and in doing so to accelerate the discovery and development of new and better treatments for patients.

Jackdaw telomeres

October 2018 - Epigenetic effects play an important role in the inheritance of telomere length. At least a third of the inheritance has an epigenetic nature. These are the conclusions of professor Simon Verhulst and other UG researchers who outlined this phenomenon for the very first time by observing jackdaws in the wild.

Sleep deprivation

March 2017 - In the current 24-hour economy, many people suffer from sleep deprivation, which has a major impact on the brain and the capacity to learn. Neuroscientist Robbert Havekes, of the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences, is investigating the effects of sleep deprivation on how the brain performs. Havekes and his colleagues from Germany, South Korea and the US have been awarded a grant of € 1.25 million from the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP), which funds interdisciplinary research in the life sciences. Havekes will receive about a quarter of the grant, which will enable him to appoint a PhD student and purchase equipment.

Bird-friendly farming

June 2016 - Last year, bird researcher Raymond Klaassen won the prestigious Herman Klomp Award. Klaassen is currently studying the Montagu's harrier's migratory behaviour and habitat use. Ultimately, he wants to enable the development of new agricultural techniques that are friendly to nature and farmland birds. Klaassen and his colleagues regard the Montagu's harrier as a flagship species for all farmland birds: If the harrier fares well, then so do all farmland birds.

Suzuki fruitfly

March 2016 - The European fruit industry is being threatened by a new insect pest from Asia, the Suzuki fruitfly. The species first appeared in the Netherlands in 2012, and has already caused tens of millions of euros of damage to countries' fruit industry. Pesticides have turned out to be ineffective, and are harmful to the environment. Other methods to combat the pest have met with equally little success. Biologist Bregje Wertheim is conducting research on the Suzuki fruitfly as part of a consortium of researchers and private-sector partners with the aim of developing an integrated, biological pest control programme. Wertheim's colleague in Groningen Leo Beukeboom is also involved, as are Marcel Dicke and Bart Pannebakker from Wageningen University, the company Koppert Biological Systems and the applied research institute WUR-PPO-Fruit. The goal is to protect fruit crops and to stop the exponential growth of the exotic insect species.

Last modified:21 April 2021 3.25 p.m.