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Botanic Garden Meise - OUR SCIENTISTS

Frederik Leliaert
Scientific director

CONTACT : Frederik Leliaert +32 2 260.09.39

List of Publication (PDF) - Personal home page - My Google Scholar profile - Friscris


Damien ErtzI’m interested in a range of topics that fall within the realms of biodiversity and evolution. I use molecular, morphological, ecological and geographic data to resolve phylogenetic relationships, test species boundaries, and explore the biogeographical history in marine algae.


My taxonomic studies focus on the Ulvophyceae, in particular the Cladophorales, a species-rich and morphologically and ecologically diverse group of green algae that abound in marine and freshwater environments. Species diversity is poorly documented, especially in tropical regions. I aim to further document this diversity, test species boundaries and resolve relationships based on morphological and molecular data obtained from new and historic collections.

Evolution, diversification and historical biogeography

Evolutionary studies centre on marine macroalgae from the Indo-Pacific region. By combining molecular phylogenetic, macro-ecological and biogeographical data, I explore the historical processes by which seaweed species arise, diverge ecologically, and come to occupy different habitats and geographic regions. I use taxa that have been well sampled throughout their geographical range, including the red alga Portieria, and several green algal genera, including Cladophora, Boodlea and Bryopsis.

Deep phylogeny

On a deeper phylogenetic level, I aim to resolve relationships among the main lineages of green plants (Viridiplantae) using organellar and nuclear genomic data and phylogenetic methods under realistic models of sequence evolution. A solid phylogenetic framework of the green plant lineage forms the basis for a revised classification that reflects evolutionary history, and enables investigating evolutionary patterns. Analysis of complete chloroplast and mitochondrial genomes also yields important insights into the evolution of these genomes, including genome rearrangements, expansion/reduction and fragmentation, gene loss, and horizontal gene transfer.

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