MBO or HBO internship: “Good food supports good science”

MBO or HBO internship: “Good food supports good science”

Aquatic Ecology

General context

The freshwater rotifer Brachionus calyciflorus has some unique features that make it ideal for addressing specific ecological and evolutionary questions. Thanks to its small size, short generation time and cyclic parthenogenetic reproduction it is very well-suited for laboratory experiments at the population level. Unfortunately, long term maintenance of experimental cultures often proves difficult as they require intensive daily maintenance and clonal populations run high risk of dying out in the longer run.

Aim of the project

We hypothesize that the difficulties of long-term culturing of B. calyciflorus populations stems from the fact that food sources typically consist of just one single algal food source and we suspect that the biochemical content (e.g. sterols, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins) of such food is too incomplete to ensure robust rotifer population growth. For this reason, we have selected a number of promising algal species that, when combined with each other, may provide a better food source. The idea is to test which algal combination is best in sustaining rotifer growth.

Project Outline

The work will first consist of setting up and maintaining cultures of different species of algae (more specifically, Chlamydomonas rheinhardtii, Cryptomonas sp. and Monoraphidium minutum). When these cultures are established, they will be used in feeding experiments designed to evaluate the suitability of mixed diets on the population success of B. calyciflorus.

The end goal of the internships is to use the results of the experiment to develop a standard operation protocol (SOP) that describes an improved culture method for rotifer populations.


At least 2 months