Filip Volckaert

Head of the Laboratory, Laboratory of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Genomics

  • Address Info
    Charles Deberiotstraat 32 - box 2439 3000 Leuven Belgium

He studies evolutionary processes at the population and species level, for instance how environmental and past climatic changes have influenced patterns of genetic diversity of species, or to detect evidence of local adaptation from genomic and phenotypic information. He has been studying the demography and gene flow of species based on molecular genetic diversity, for instance after spatial expansion in a heterogeneous environment. He is interested in historical and spatial constraints, and how these effects add up with selection. Signatures of selection are another target, be it either under influence of natural phenomena or due to the impact of man. He also studies parasites because they represent ideal models for speciation processes; they have a large potential for diversification and specialization. Co-evolution between parasite and fish host has become a perfect test case of fast adaptation.
Throughout the years he has increasingly integrated the ecological and evolutionary research with functional aspects in order to understand the causes of adaptation (Evolutionary and Ecological Functional Genomics). Functional changes merit close scrutiny because selection is one of the major drivers of evolution.
To answer all these questions he combines advanced genomic and transcriptomic tools with phenotyping, otolith elemental analysis, habitat characterization and mode­ling. Model organisms are fishes, their parasites and microbiome. The ocean is our main research environment, but a good number of studies involve freshwater habitats. The research, which is fundamental in nature, has applications in conservation, fisheries and aquaculture.