Sander de Backer

Research scientist: crop wild relatives


Department: Research



|  ORCID  |



The aim of my research is to unravel ecological and evolutionary dynamics of wild plant species closely related to crops through molecular genetic studies. My focus is mainly genomic research on wild bananas (Musa spp., Musaceae), and bean species (Phaseoleae). Within these economically important groups, I look into genetic relationships between wild species, between wild species and crop varieties, and between crop varieties themselves to gain insights in the historical process of their domestication. In addition, I am focusing on interactions of these crops and their wild relatives with the abiotic and biotic environment, including microbiome composition, host-parasite relationships, and climate adaptation responses.

I am experienced in the processing and interpretation of high-throughput sequencing data retrieved from genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS; RADseq, DArTseq). As part of previous and ongoing projects, I develop and maintain computational tools (Python, R, bash) for the processing of high-throughput sequencing data.


  • Msc, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, 2019

Employment history

  • Research scientist, Meise Botanic Garden, Meise, Belgium, 2022-ongoing
  • Laboratory technician, Meise Botanic Garden, Meise, Belgium, 2020-2022
  • Molecular analyst, Bodemkundige Dienst van België, Heverlee, Belgium, 2019-2020

FRIS Research Portal