Karine Van Doninck Lab

Laboratory of Evolutionary Genetics and Ecology (LEGE)


All living beings are connected and share a common ancestor - the tree of life. Life involves change. It comprises those processes such as reproduction, variation and inheritance. Reproduction is vital and occurs in various modes, sexual reproduction being the dominant one in the eukaryotic kingdom. Nevertheless, several types of reproductive modes evolved and persist.

One of the main interests of the Karine Van Doninck lab is to tackle fundamental questions related to the evolution of asexual reproductive modes and to understand the factors contributing to genomic variation and adaptation. The model systems are the bdelloid rotifers and the Corbicula clams, employing two different modes of asexual reproduction. Rotifers from the Class Bdelloidea are common microscopic metazoans that appear to be obligate ancient asexuals (“all-female asexuality”). They have a worldwide distribution, occurring preferentially in ephemerally aquatic habitats such as mosses and lichens because they can survive desiccation at any stage of their life cycle. Within the clam genus Corbicula, several invasive freshwater lineages found both in America and Europe appear to reproduce through androgenesis, a form of “all-male asexuality” in which the maternal nuclear genome fails to participate in zygote development. All the descendants are therefore paternal nuclear clones.

We seek to understand what mechanisms underlie the adaptability in the absence of sexual reproduction. We employ different tools (fieldwork, animal cytology, molecular biology, comparative genomics and bioinformatics) to study evolutionary processes at the level of populations, both experimental and natural, and genomes in both animal systems.

Besides, we conduct a few studies in conservation genetics. More specifically, we investigate the geographic expansion of species (invasive exotic species or native species regaining territories) seeking to understand the dynamics of colonization and their impact on native species or ecosystems.



  • Karine Van Doninck obtained an ERC Consolidator Grant starting in June 2017. Positions open for Post-Docs and Ph.D students

UNamur • University of Namur
Postal address : rue de Bruxelles 61, B-5000 Namur, Belgium