Frederik Leliaert

Scientific director, Herbarium & Library
Research scientist phycology
Department: Herbarium & Library
Phone: +32 2 260 09 70

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I’m interested in biodiversity and evolution of algae. I use molecular, morphological, ecological and geographic data to resolve phylogenetic relationships, test species boundaries, and explore the biogeographical history in marine algae.

Taxonomy. I focus on the taxonomy of the Ulvophyceae, and in particular the Cladophorales, a morphologically and ecologically diverse group of green algae that abound in marine and freshwater environments. Species diversity is poorly documented, especially in tropical regions. I aim to further describe this diversity, test species boundaries and resolve relationships based on morphological and molecular data obtained from new and historic collections.

Evolution, diversification and historical biogeography. By combining molecular phylogenetic, macro-ecological and biogeographical data, I explore the historical processes by which seaweed species arise, diverge ecologically, and come to occupy different habitats and geographic regions. I use taxa that have been well sampled throughout their geographical range, including the red alga Portieria, and several green algal genera, including Cladophora, Boodlea and Bryopsis.

Deep phylogeny. I aim to resolve relationships among the main lineages of green plants (Viridiplantae) using genome-scale data. A solid phylogenetic framework of the green plant lineage forms the basis for a revised classification that reflects evolutionary history, and enables investigating evolutionary patterns. Analysis of complete chloroplast and mitochondrial genomes also yields important insights into the evolution of these genomes, including genome rearrangements, expansion/reduction and fragmentation, gene loss, and horizontal gene transfer.


  • PhD, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium, 2004
  • MSc, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium, 1996

Employment history

  • Scientific director, Meise Botanic Garden, Belgium, 2016 - ongoing
  • Visiting professor, Ghent University, Belgium, 2016 - ongoing
  • Assistant professor, Ghent University, Belgium, 2014 - 2016
  • Postdoctoral researcher, The University of Alabama, USA, 2013 - 2014
  • Postdoctoral researcher, Ghent University, Belgium, 2005 - 2013
  • Teaching assistant, Ghent University, Belgium, 1997 - 2004

Professional activities

  • Associate Editor, Frontiers in Plant Science, 2018 - ongoing
  • Associate Editor, European Journal of Taxonomy, 2017- ongoing
  • Associate Editor, Algological Studies, 2012- ongoing
  • Member of the editorial board of Journal of Phycology, 2014 - ongoing
  • Teaching: course Biodiversity Conservation, Ghent University, 2014 - ongoing
  • Member of the scientific committee of the 7th European Phycological Congress, Zagreb, 2019
  • Symposium organizer, 6th European Phycological Congress, London, 2015

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