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PhD student, FRS-FNRS

phone: +32 (0)2 650 22 67

e-mail: Nicolas.Kaczmarek@ulb.be

Research interests

PhD research project

From modalities of reproductive strategies in the termite’s group Subulitermes to the origins and evolution of Asexual Queen Succession in Termitidae

Supervisors: Denis Fournier and Yves Roisin

A few termite species have evolved the ability to exploit both sexual and asexual reproductions. Individuals in contact with the environment (workers, soldiers and future alates which disperse to become kings and queens of new societies) are sexually produced, whereas secondary queens that replace the primary queen upon her death are parthenogenetically produced. Thus, the queen perpetuates its own reproductive success through parthenogenetic reproductive daughters while ensuring genetic diversity to quickly adapt to changing environments. Current data show that the conditional use of sexual and asexual reproductions evolved independently in phylogenetically distant species, and through different cytoplasmic mechanisms. This raises fundamental questions about the selective pressures underlying the evolution of this alternative reproductive strategy.

This research project has two main objectives.

  1. 1. It aims to highlight the modalities of reproductive strategies of termites belonging to the Subulitermes group, a biological model never studied but yet particularly relevant due to its diversity and its place in the phylogeny of termites. For this purpose, we will define the different species of this group using genetic and morphometric analyses. We will characterize the life history traits of each species through the characterization of (i) the genetic architecture and reproductive systems of the nests, (ii) their structure and phenology, and (iii) their genetic and spatial structures.

  2. 2. Our ultimate target is to elucidate, in the evolutionary history of termites, the selective pressures that led to the evolution of this alternative reproductive strategy. We will focus on Termitidae family and we will combine the phylogeny of key species with the information about their biology and the presence of replacement reproductives.

Master thesis

The impacts of endosymbionts on the reproductive system and sex-ratio in the parthenogenetic termite Cavitermes tuberosus (Termitidae: Termitinae)

Supervisor: Denis Fournier (2016-2017, Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium)

Educational background

  1. 2017 - today: PhD thesis in Evolutionary Biology (Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium)

  2. 2015 - 2017: Master in Organisms Biology and Ecology (Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium)

  3. 2012 - 2015: Bachelor’s Degree in Organisms and Populations Biology (Université de Lille, France)


Kaczmarek N, Hellemans S, Roisin Y, Fournier D (2016) Maternally inherited bacteria in the parthenogenetic termite Cavitermes tuberosus: master manipulator or obligate mutualist? Entomology in Belgium, Brussels (Belgium).

Kaczmarek N, Hellemans S, Roisin Y, Fournier D (2017) Sex or food, what matters the most in the intimate relationship between Wolbachia and the parthenogenetic termite Cavitermes tuberosus? 4th Young Natural History scientists' Meeting, Paris (France).

Hellemans S, Kaczmarek N, Roisin Y, Fournier D (2017) Wolbachia: a puppet master in the parthenogenesis of the Neotropical termite Cavitermes tuberosus? European Conference of Tropical Ecology, Brussels (Belgium).

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