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Dr. M. (Marjolein) Bruijning

Assistant professor of Evolutionary ecology
Faculty of Science
Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

Visiting address
  • Science Park 904
  • Room number: C3.217
Postal address
  • Postbus 94240
    1090 GE Amsterdam
  • Profile

    Marjolein is an evolutionary ecologist, with broad interests in host-microbe interactions, life history evolution and population ecology. Her research integrates theory with empirical research. Marjolein completed my PhD at Radboud University Nijmegen in 2019, on the importance of genetic variation and plasticity in, amongst others, water fleas. For her post-doctoral research at Princeton University, she became interested in host-microbe interactions, and in particular in the role of the microbiome in host evolution and adaptation. In 2022, Marjolein joined the department of Evolutionary and Population Biology as an assistant professor. She has various opportunities for student projects, so don't hesitate to contact her if you are interested.

  • Research

    See for more information and ongoing projects:


    Microbes living in and on hosts, termed the microbiome, are critical for healthy hosts. The relationships between hosts and their microbiomes are among the most intimate interactions found on the planet, and their coevolutionary trajectories are both fascinating and puzzling. For instance, is the microbiome under host or under microbe control? Can the microbiome rescue populations that are otherwise maladapted? When do good microbes become bad? Can we select for beneficial microbes, for instance to increase crop yield or for conservation?

    Specific research topics include:

    Microbiome extensions of host evolutionary potential. Marjolein studies how and when microbiomes can benefit their host, and how this is shaped by patterns of microbial transmission, contrasting selection pressures, interactions between hosts and microbes, and within-host microbial interactions. To do so, she develops methods to incorporate the microbiome into traditional evolutionary theory.

    The microbiome in mediating disease dynamics. The impact of pathogens on natural populations is expected to intensify under global change. As the microbiome has the potential to mediate host responses to such pathogen infections, it is important to understand the causal links between the microbiome, pathogens and host performance. How do population adapt to climate change, and can we harness the microbiome to alleviate future epidemics? Marjolein plans to unravel this in water fleas, a keystone species in freshwater systems and a bio-indicator for ecosystem health, combining novel experiments with modelling.

    Automated image analysis. Marjolein's work advances novel technologies and methods. She previously developed software to obtain automated population counts using computer vision, available as an R-package trackdem (see CRAN and Github).

  • Publications


    • Bruijning, M., Metcalf, C. J. E., & Visser, M. D. (2024). Closing the gap in the Janzen–Connell hypothesis: What determines pathogen diversity? Ecology Letters, 27(1), Article e14316.



    • Bruijning, M., Fossen, E. I. F., Jongejans, E., Vanvelk, H., Raeymaekers, J. A. M., Govaert, L., Brans, K. I., Einum, S., & De Meester, L. (2022). Host–parasite dynamics shaped by temperature and genotype: Quantifying the role of underlying vital rates. Functional Ecology, 36(2), 485-499.
    • Bruijning, M., Henry, L. P., Forsberg, S. K. G., Metcalf, C. J. E., & Ayroles, J. F. (2022). Natural selection for imprecise vertical transmission in host-microbiota systems. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 6(1), 77-87.
    • Metcalf, C. J. E., Tepekule, B., Bruijning, M., & Koskella, B. (2022). Hosts, microbiomes, and the evolution of critical windows. Evolution letters, 6(6), 412-425.


    • Glennon, E. E., Bruijning, M., Lessler, J., Miller, I. F., Rice, B. L., Thompson, R. N., Wells, K., & Metcalf, C. J. E. (2021). Challenges in modeling the emergence of novel pathogens. Epidemics, 37, 100516.
    • Henry, L. P., Bruijning, M., Forsberg, S. K. G., & Ayroles, J. F. (2021). The microbiome extends host evolutionary potential. Nature Communications, 12(1), 5141.
    • Rice, B. L., Annapragada, A., Baker, R. E., Bruijning, M., Dotse-Gborgbortsi, W., Mensah, K., Miller, I. F., Motaze, N. V., Raherinandrasana, A., Rajeev, M., Rakotonirina, J., Ramiadantsoa, T., Rasambainarivo, F., Yu, W., Grenfell, B. T., Tatem, A. J., & Metcalf, C. J. E. (2021). Variation in SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks across sub-Saharan Africa. Nature medicine, 27(3), 447-453.



    • Bruijning, M., Jongejans, E., & Turcotte, M. M. (2019). Demographic responses underlying eco-evolutionary dynamics as revealed with inverse modelling. Journal of Animal Ecology, 88(5), 768-779.


    • Bruijning, M., Visser, M. D., Hallmann, C. A., & Jongejans, E. (2018). trackdem: Automated particle tracking to obtain population counts and size distributions from videos in r. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 9(4), 965-973.


    • Bruijning, M., Visser, M. D., Muller-Landau, H. C., Wright, S. J., Comita, L. S., Hubbell, S. P., de Kroon, H., & Jongejans, E. (2017). Surviving in a Cosexual World: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Dioecy in Tropical Trees. American Naturalist, 189(3), 297-314.
    • van Benthem, K. J., Bruijning, M., Bonnet, T., Jongejans, E., Postma, E., & Ozgul, A. (2017). Disentangling evolutionary, plastic and demographic processes underlying trait dynamics: a review of four frameworks. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 8(1), 75-85.


    • Visser, M. D., Bruijning, M., Wright, S. J., Muller-Landau, H. C., Jongejans, E., Comita, L. S., & de Kroon, H. (2016). Functional traits as predictors of vital rates across the life cycle of tropical trees. Functional Ecology, 30(2), 168-180.
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    No ancillary activities