RHEA is an ERC Consolidator Grant (2017) research project led by Karine Van Doninck (research unit in molecular biology and evolution, Faculty of Sciences)

Karine Van Doninck

This ERC-COG project consists in a meticulous study of bdelloid rotifers, which are microscopic animals found in moss and lichen. Professor Karine Van Doninck’s hypothesis is that bdelloid rotifers are an evolutionary oddity: they are all females and evolve without sexual reproduction, instead apparently using other mechanisms to diversify. What are these mechanisms? In addition, bdelloid rotifers are highly resistant to various stresses such as total desiccation, ionizing radiation and freezing. How do they achieve this?

The research funded by this ERC will enable Karine Van Doninck and her team to enrich their genomic database of rotifer strains, the only one of its kind in the world. Professor Van Doninck intends to use rotifers as a new biological model in order to better understand how these organisms evolve and to identify the molecular mechanisms that allow them to survive extreme conditions. The research, which is currently fundamental, could yield interesting applications.

End of the project: September 30, 2023


This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC)
under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 725998).
Créé le 7 décembre 2020