Visser, Bertanne PhD



2016-present             FNRS CR postdoctoral fellow at Univ catholique de Louvain BE  

2013-15                     Marie Curie & Rubicon postdoctoral fellow at Tours University FR

2012                          Postdoctoral associate at the University of Florida USA

2011-12                     Research associate at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology NL

2007-11                     PhD student at VU University Amsterdam NL

2002-07                     BSc and MSc student at Leiden University NL

Current funding

FNRS Crédit de Recherche Grant (2017-2018)

FNRS Chargée de Recherche Fellowship (2016-2018)

The evolutionary loss and regain of lipid synthesis

Evolution was long thought to be irreversible, where lost traits diminish genetic variation that pushes systems towards evolutionary dead-ends. Recent comparative work has challenged this view, showing that numerous lost traits were regained over the course of evolution. We have yet to decipher how and when adaptive trait loss and regain occurs, an objective that is fraught with difficulties because ancestral and derived lineages often do not co-occur. Parasitoids have recently emerged as an exceptional model for studying reverse evolution in action, as these are the only animals to have lost and regained a key metabolic trait, lipid synthesis, both between and within species. Using the Drosophila parasitoid Leptopilina heterotoma, that shows intra-specific variability in lipogenic ability, we aim to study evolutionary trait loss and reversion both in the laboratory and in the wild, using molecular and physiological approaches. Our work will lead to critical insights into the mechanistic underpinnings of trait loss and reversal and will elucidate how these processes are currently taking place in the wild. Understanding how and why trait loss and regain occurs is critical for understanding evolutionary change and the potential for species to overcome the loss of genetic variation and evolutionary dead-ends. 

Selected publications

See for a list of all my publications.

Visser B, Hance T, Noel C, Pels C, Kimura MT, Stokl J, Geuverink E & Nieberding CM. 2018. Variation in lipid synthesis, but genetic homogeneity, among Leptopilina parasitic wasp populations. Ecology and Evolution. In press.

Malcicka M*, Visser B* & Ellers J. 2017. An evolutionary perspective on linoleic acid synthesis in animals. Evolutionary Biology. * Equal contribution.

Visser B, Willett DS, Harvey JA & Alborn HT. 2017. Concurrence in the ability for lipid synthesis between life stages in insects. Royal Society Open Science 4: 160815.

Le Lann C, Visser B, Mériaux M, Moiroux J, van Baaren J, van Alphen JJM & Ellers J. 2014. Rising temperature reduces divergence in resource use strategies in coexisting parasitoid species. Oecologia 174: 967-977.

Visser B, Roelofs D, Hahn DA, Teal PEA, Mariën J & Ellers J. 2012. Transcriptional changes associated with lack of lipid synthesis in parasitoids. Genome Biology and Evolution 4: 752-762.

Visser B, Le Lann C, den Blanken FJ, Harvey JA, van Alphen JJM & Ellers J. 2010. Loss of lipid synthesis as an evolutionary consequence of a parasitic lifestyle. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 107: 8677-8682


Model system

Leptopilina heterotoma  (photograph courtesy of Hans Smid)