Botanic Garden Meise - OUR SCIENTISTS
Christine Cocquyt, PhD
My main research is focused on algae from Africa. My interest goes particularly to the morphology, taxonomy and ecology of the diatoms from tropical African lakes such as Lake Tanganyika and crater lakes in Uganda and Kenya. After the Boyekoli Ebale Congo 2010 expedition, where I was one of the participants, my research includes now also diatoms from rivers and streams of the Congo basin. The diatom flora of this basin is hardly studied and an in-depth study will result in the descriptions of many species new for science. In this aspect the study of historic collections from East Africa is undertaken in collaboration with international colleagues with the focus mainly on species belonging to the family Surirellaceae, the most evolved group within the diatoms.
Currently I am also involved in several projects dealing with the study of phytoplankton in several lakes in East Africa. In Lake Tanganyika, the second deepest lake of the world, these studies are part of a large study related to cholera (Choltic project). A link between cholera, one of the deadliest diseases in Africa, phytoplankton blooms and copepods was demonstrated in Asia, it is to be suspected that Great Lakes such as Lake Tanganyika, may play a role as a reservoir of the cholera bacteria. My part in the project is to try to identify specific phytoplankton taxa that can be used as an early warning proxy. In Lake Challa, on the border of Kenya and Tanzania, the study I am carrying out on phytoplankton dynamics in the actual water column will be used to better interpret the sediment records used for past climate reconstruction and understanding.
In the frame of a VLIR –CUI project I am teaching algology at the University of Kisangani, DR Congo, at master and Pd D students