L.W. (Laura) Dijkhuizen MSc
Gegenereerd op 2018-09-24 17:26:38


Friends describe me as a passionate, inquisitive and creative academic in training. A musician, photographer and amateur chef. My research interests lie in plant physiology, ecology and deploying science for a sustainable future. I am enthusiastic to utilise novel methods and my computational skills in answering appealing biological questions.

Involved in the following study programme(s)

Azolla plant

Nature plants cover with Azolla filiculoides and Salvinia cuculata
Gegenereerd op 2018-09-24 17:26:38
Curriculum vitae

For recent job history, please find my Linked-In page.

Gegenereerd op 2018-09-24 17:26:38

Our most recent relevant publication is that of the Azolla filiculoides and Salvinia cuculate genomes. Please find the open-acces publication here. I made the photo that made it to the cover of issue of Nature plants.

Cover Nature plants Volume 4 Issue 7, July 2018


 Please also find these press releases by Utrecht University:

and these other non-scholarly publicity (in Dutch):

All publications
  2018 - Scholarly publications
Dijkhuizen, Laura W., Brouwer, Paul, Bolhuis, Henk, Reichart, Gert Jan, Koppers, Nils, Huettel, Bruno, Bolger, Anthony M., Li, Fay Wei, Cheng, Shifeng, Liu, Xin, Wong, Gane Ka Shu, Pryer, Kathleen, Weber, Andreas P.M., Bräutigam, Andrea & Schluepmann, Henriette (01.01.2018). Is there foul play in the leaf pocket? The metagenome of floating fern Azolla reveals endophytes that do not fix N2but may denitrify. New Phytologist, 217 (1), (pp. 453-466) (14 p.).

Other relevant publications of the Azolla lab:

Brouwer, P., Schluepmann, H., Nierop, K. G., Elderson, J., Bijl, P. K., van der Meer, I., ... & van der Werf, A. (2018). Growing Azolla to produce sustainable protein feed: The effect of differing species and CO2 concentrations on biomass productivity and chemical composition. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
Li, F. W., Brouwer, P., Carretero-Paulet, L., Cheng, S., de Vries, J., Delaux, P. M., ... & Simenc, M. (2018). Fern genomes elucidate land plant evolution and cyanobacterial symbioses. Nature plants, 1.
Brouwer, Paul, Bräutigam, Andrea, Buijs, Valerie A., Tazelaar, Anne O.E., van der Werf, Adrie, Schlüter, Urte, Reichart, Gert-Jan, Bolger, Anthony, Usadel, Björn, Weber, Andreas P.M. & Schluepmann, Henriette (31.03.2017). Metabolic adaptation, a specialized leaf organ structure and vascular responses to diurnal N2 fixation by nostoc azollae sustain the astonishing productivity of azolla ferns without nitrogen fertilizer. Frontiers in Plant Science, 8.
de Vries, Jan, Fischer, Angela Melanie, Roettger, Mayo, Rommel, Sophie, Schlupmann, Henriette, Bräutigam, Andrea, Carlsbecker, Annelie & Gould, Sven Bernhard (2016). Cytokinin-induced promotion of root meristem size in the fern Azolla supports a shoot-like origin of euphyllophyte roots. New Phytologist, 209 (2), (pp. 705-20) (16 p.). © 2015 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2015 New Phytologist Trust.

Brouwer, Paul, van der Werf, Adrie, Schluepmann, Henriette, Reichart, Gert Jan & Nierop, Klaas G J (2016). Lipid yield and composition of Azolla filiculoides and the implications for biodiesel production. Bioenergy Research, 9 (1), (pp. 369-377) (9 p.).

Brouwer, Paul, Bräutigam, A., Külahoglu, C., Tazelaar, A.O.E., Kurz, S., Nierop, K.G.J., van der Werf, A., Weber, A.P.M. & Schlupmann, Henriette (2014). Azolla domestication towards a biobased economy?. New Phytologist, 202 (3), (pp. 1069-1082) (14 p.).

^ top
Gegenereerd op 2018-09-24 17:26:38
01.01.2014 to
General project description 

The Azolla lab, lead by Dr. Henriette Schluepmann focusses on three main Azolla related themes:

  1. Domestication

  2. Ecology

  3. Production and application

Azolla domestication aims to study and regulate molecular mechanisms key to Azolla growth and reproduction. Please also find this key publication on Azolla domestication, part of the thesis of Dr. Paul Brouwer.

The Azolla ecology sub-project focusses firstly on the microbial symbiosis essential to Azollas special properties. Secondly, it focusses on the ecology of Azolla in its natural setting here in the Netherlands.

Production en application
Growing Azolla in agricultural settings in the Dutch climate en researching applications of Azolla biomass. Please also find the thesis of Dr. Paul Brouwerr.

Recente publiciteit

  1. Artikel and interview in het Algemeen Dagblad.

  2. Radio interview op radio station BNR over de recente publicatie van het Azolla genoom.

  3. Interview op lokaal televisiestation RTV Utrecht bij UVandaag.

  4. Interview and article over Azolla bij Henk Westbroek  met Laura Dijkhuizen en Paul brouwer op RTV Utrecht

Role PhD Candidate & Researcher
Individual project description

My focus in the Azolla lab is on the ecology of Azolla. The Azolla ecological research can be divided in a microbial sub-project and a aquatic-ecology sub-project.

I study the symbiosis between Azolla and the microbes it hosts in it's leaves. Most prominently and famously: the cyanobacterium Nostoc azollae. This cyanobacterium fixes nitrogen from the air, using energy from it's own photosynthesis, and provides this nitrogen to the host plant. Due to this symbiosis Azolla can maintain extremely high growth rates without any nitrogen in the water it floats on.

Multiple players
In the first chapter of my thesis, I describe how we found a few other bacteria inhabitting the leaves of Azolla. With metagenomic methods, we hypothesise about functions of these bacteria and test these.

Population diversity
In this subproject, we study the diversity of Azolla found in the Netherlands.

One of the major requirements for evolution is the transfer of heritable properties to the next generation. The symbiotic relation between Azolla and the microbes in its leaves, distincts itself from other symbioses for the microbes are transfered to the next generation of Azolla in a systematic maner. The fundamental scientific question that follows, is if these microbes that we find in multiple Azolla species have co-evolved with it's host plant.

Azolla for phosphorus mining from submerged sediments
Phosphorus is an important macro element for animals and plants alike. The stock of phosphorus however, is finite. In aquatic ecosystems, phosphorus often sinks to the sediments where it remains unavailable to us. In collaboration with B-Ware Nijmegen, we ask ourselves if we can retrieve phosphorus from submerged sediments by growing Azolla on these waters.

Project members UU
External project members:
  • Dr. Paul Brouwer

Gegenereerd op 2018-09-24 17:26:38


  • Bachelor second year course molecular plant physiology
  • Bachelor second year course Moleculair genetic research techniques
  • Bachelor third year course Biology of the biobased Economy

Other teaching

  • Tutor  first years bachelor students
  • Development and execution of metagenomics hands-on sessions in various Masters courses.
  • Short interdisciplinary projects for Honours students of mixed backgrounds


Student projects

  • Manpreet Singh            : Azolla multi species metagenomics
  • Estelle                               : Azolla miRNA discovery
  • Anna Coreas                   : Azolla reproduction and symbiont transfer.
  • Niels Rijken                    : Azolla nursery for the biobased economy
  • Rushi Sanjeev Mehta  : A first glimpse of the biodiversity of Azolla in the Netherlands
Gegenereerd op 2018-09-24 17:26:38
Additional functions and activities

Volunteer mentor for youth support groups on gender identity at Transvisie zorg, part of the Parnassia group.

Gegenereerd op 2018-09-24 17:26:38
Full name
L.W. Dijkhuizen MSc Contact details
Hugo R. Kruytgebouw

Padualaan 8
Room O206
The Netherlands

Phone number (direct) +31 30 253 3289
Postal address
Padualaan 8
3584 CH    UTRECHT
The Netherlands
Mo Tue Wed Thu Fr

For more information on our publications, publicity, and other Azolla related questions please do not hesitate to contact me and/or my colleagues.

Gegenereerd op 2018-09-24 17:26:38
Last updated 27.07.2018