Prof.dr. N.M. (Nico) van Straalen

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+31 20 59 87070
faculteit der bètawetenschappen ( subafdeling dierecologie )
Scientific staff

Curriculum vitae


Since 1 March 2015, I am a part-time board member of education for the Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences and the Faculty of Exact Sciences.
I am responsible for all strategic and policy matters concerning education, a link between university policy and faculty policy and, together with the Educational Directorate (Nellie Harms and Johan Vermeer, maintaining and enhancing the quality of our educational portfolio. For the coming 2 years three main issues determine my agenda:

- Enhancing engagement of students and teachers in all programs
- Rearranging the faculties’ educational organization, including a divide between the finance flow for education and research, and a new system of funding the educational effort by the scientific departments
- Intensification of collaboration with UvA’s faculty of Science and proposing new Joint Degree programs .

Research interests

I am interested the application of molecular insights to problems of ecology and evolution. How does natural selection act upon genetic variation to cause adaptive change in populations? What is the relative importance of transcriptional regulation in evolutionary processes, as opposed to variation in the coding regions of genes? These questions require in-depth studies at the level of genome structure and function, combined with physiology and population ecology. Stress due to environmental pollution is eminently suitable to investigate evolutionary processes because pollution is often a strong selection pressure that can be quantified an experimentally manipulated.


Publication list Nico van Straalen at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Selected publications:

Van Straalen, N.M. & D. Roelofs (2006, 2012) An Introduction to Ecological Genomics. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 

Janssens, T.K.S., Mariën, J., Cenijn, P., Legler, J., Van Straalen, N.M. & Roelofs, D. (2007) Recombinational micro-evolution of functionally different metallothionein promoter alleles from Orchesella cincta. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 7, 88.

Roelofs, D., M.J.T.N. Timmermans, P. Hensbergen, H. Van Leeuwen, J. Koopman, A. Faddeeva, W. Suring, T.E. De Boer, J. Mariën, R. Boer, R. Bovenberg and N.M. Van Straalen (2013) A functional isopenicillin N synthase in an animal genome. Molecular Biology and Evolution 30: 541-548.

Van Straalen, N.M. & Feder, M.E. (2012). Ecological and Evolutionary Functional Genomics - how can it contribute to the risk assessment of chemicals? Environmental Science & Technology 46: 3-9.

Research projects

1. Ecological genomics and evolution
The aim of this project is to use the exciting new possibilities offered by genomics technology to deepen our understanding of evolutionary mechanisms, the tree of life, and the interaction between living organisms and their environment. For more information, see the textbook written by Dick Roelofs and me: "An Introduction to Ecological Genomics" (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed, 2012).

2. Soil invertebrates 
Almost every evolutionary lineage of animal has some representative living in the soil environment. The soil invertebrate community is an immensely rich source for studies of biodiversity, ecology and evolution. However, most of ecological theory is inspired by studies on above-ground ecosystems. This has introduced a bias since, in several ways, ecological relationships among soil-living communities are different from those above-ground. I am writing a book on the ecology and evolution of soil invertebrates to gather and synthesize all the scattered information on those little rotters in the soil.

Publicity, popular science writing and outreach

I am writing a weekly column on biology, evolution and science in the newspapers of Holland Media Combinatie (in Dutch).

Klik hier om de columns te lezen 

Ancillary activities

Gemeente Edam Volendam - Unknown Volendam, 11 maart 2010
Commissie Genetische Modificatie (COGEM) - Unknown Wageningen, 01 juni 2012
NWO-ALW - Unknown Den Haag, 24 oktober 2013
Ned. Instituut voor Ecologisch Onderzoek - Unknown Wageningen, 24 oktober 2013
Onbekend - Unknown Onbekend, 24 oktober 2013
Last changes Ancillary activities: Amsterdam 27 januari 2017