21 Feb 2018: 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. Karine studies especially bdelloid rotifers employing a specific mode 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.

Karine Van Doninck is Doctor in Biology (VUB/ Post-doc at the University of Harvard). Her main research topic is an animal world evolutive scandal: bdelloid rotifers… Females who clone naturally, without males and who can desicate at any stage of their life.  How do they evolve?  How can they survive total desication?  Back to Europe with an MSCA grant, Karine Van Doninck, now professor at UNamur continues her research about rotifers’ genomics and ecology.  In 2011, together with her team, she starts publishing and in 2013, an article is released in Nature!  She is granted other fundings for her research (FNRS, ESA) and she is awarded an ERC CoG in 2016.  Karine is the only Belgian woman who received this prestigious grant… Her aim: make rotifers an new biological model.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by the local UNamur community.

Watch the talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dSJ5G01ovw