Niels van der Windt
PhD candidate / Self Funded
Niels is a PhD researcher working with Naturalis, Wageningen University, and the Environmental Biology department of CML. He studies the symbiosis between sponges, their microbes, and their potential for natural product discovery as part of the European MARBLES project.
Niels received both his BSc degree 'Biology' in 2016 and MSc degree 'Biodiversity and Sustainability' in 2020 at Leiden University. During his BSc internship he worked on sponge taxonomy and ecology by studying the predator-prey relationship between sponges and nudibranchs. Niels got fascinated by sponges because of their simplistic body plan, but very complex interactions with the environment and their importance for ecosystem functioning.
During his master Niels continued working on sponges, where he started using molecular techniques to elucidate the relationship between coral boring sponges and a specific group of symbionts called Symbiodiniaceae.
Overall Niels gained a great deal of experience working in the molecular lab by his internships, and by working as a technician at the molecular laboratories of Naturalis Biodiversity Center.
Now Niels aims to identify the most promising ecosystems for Natural product discovery in Sponges. Using an integrative multi-omics approach Niels links global sponge biodiversity patterns to both overall microbial diversity and biosynthetic gene cluster (BGCs) diversity in sponges in a variety of marine environments, such as the deep sea, coral reefs and mangroves.