I am an evolutionary ecologist with a strong interest in the ecology and evolution of plant biotic interactions. I graduated at the University of Groningen in 1991 on an ecological-genetic analysis of phenotypic variation in life-history traits in Lychnis flos-cuculi. During a one-year post-doc period in the lab of Prof. J. Antonovics (USA) I studied aspects of the maintenance of disease-resistance polymorphisms using both theoretical models and field experiments. From 1991 to 2005 I worked at the Department of Plant Population Biology, the last three years as Head of Department. In 2005 I moved to the Department of Multitrophic interactions, now called the Department of Terrestrial Ecology.
I am broadly interested in how disturbances such as global environmental change, changes In land use and species invasions affect trophic interactions between plants and other organisms in the so-called plant-associated food web, including insect herbivores and their natural enemies, pollinators, pathogens, and beneficial microbes. Research topics include microbially-induced resistance in plants and the drivers of its context-dependency, plant-mediated interactions between aboveground and belowground organisms including microbes, arthropods and nematodes, evolution of plant defenses in a multitrophic context, evolutionary ecology of nursery pollination systems, and ecological and evolutionary consequences of altered biotic interactions during plant invasions.
Currently, my main research focus is on the evolutionary ecology of plant-microbe-arthropod interactions. I got excited about this field of research during an ESF exploratory workshop the we organized in 2011, and that formed the basis of COST Action FA1405 that I coordinated from 2015-2019 (“Using three-way interactions between plants, microbes and arthropods to enhance crop protection and production”), that brought together a fantastic and inspiring group of researchers working in this field. This led a.o. to the EU ITN “MiRA” (Microbe-induced resistance to Agricultural Pests, https://mira.ku.dk) in which 15 ESRs were trained in various aspects of microbially-induced resistance in plants. Currently I am WP leader in the EU project EXCALIBUR (Exploiting the multifunctional potential of belowground biodiversity in horticultural farming, https://www.excaliburproject.eu). For research projects please visit my group page.