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PhD student

phone: +32 (0) 467 806 639

e-mail: mohammed.tawfeeq@ulb.be


Mohammed Tawfeeq on ResearchGate, Linkedin, Orcid









Research interests


PhD research project

Genome dynamics in Arthropods


Supervisor: Jean-François Flot

Co-supervisor: Thomas Verdebout


In 1923, Robert Feulgen designed a quantitative approach to measure the relative DNA content of nuclei (the so-called “C-value”, which is defined as half of the DNA content of a somatic cell and is expressed in pg). The Feulgen approach has several advantages: it can be used on ethanol-preserved samples, it is relatively inexpensive, and it does not require sophisticated equipment. Gathering DNA content information is a key preliminary step for whole-genome sequencing of non-model species that help guide researchers in genome assembly and also yield important information for ecological and evolutionary studies as well as for conservation, since genome size has been shown to be strongly correlated to extinction risk in animals and plants. However, among invertebrates, genome size information is particularly scarce for Niphargidae and Gammaridea which are among the largest families of freshwater subterranean amphipods in the world. Using a new, improved Feulgen protocol, we generated novel genome size estimates for Niphargus schellenbergi (more niphards and gammarids are undergoing genome size measurements) collected from central and western European niphargids. We observed a two-fold intraspecific variation between every 3 specimens collected from same geographical population which is unusual but not unheard of: it occurs also in the monogonont rotifer Brachionus asplanchnoidis (Stelzer et al. 2021). Our next research steps will be focused to identify the mechanisms responsible for such genome size variation, which may result from copy-number variation, polyploidy and/or various amounts of transposable elements.



Educational background


  1. 2017 - 2019: Erasmus Joint Master degree in Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems (Tropimundo)

  2. Department of Biology of Organisms and Ecology, Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), University of Florence (Italy)

  3. Thesis: Characterization of culturable bacterial communities associated with cage cultured fish under different stocking densities in Setiu Wetlands, Terengganu, Malaysia

  4. Supervisors: Mohd Effendy Abd. Wahid, Najiah Musa, Isabelle George

  5. 2007 - 2011: BSc. in General Biology, University of Baghdad (Iraq)







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