About our research

This Master’s specialisation is tightly connected to the Radboud Institute for Biological and Environmental Sciences (RIBES), a well-known institute in the field of stress adaptation in plants, micro-organisms and animals. On this page, you can read more about the relevant institute(s), research groups and unique facilities that make our highly renowned research possible.

Research institutes

Radboud Institute for Biological and Environmental Sciences

For more than 20 years, researchers from the Radboud Institute for Biological and Environmental Sciences (RIBES) have been trying to fundamentally understand recovery processes and connect all different components in an ecosystem. This includes studying and predicting the impact of anthropogenic (man-made) stressors, such as carbon dioxide emission and the use of toxic agricultural compounds. Due to this long history, the institute profits from an ample funding and a large research network, both inside and outside academia.

Research groups

During your Master's you will do at least one internship at one of our research departments. Relevant departments are:

Organismal Animal Physiology

Animal Ecology and Physiology

The Animal Ecology and Physiology department addresses multiple levels of biological organisation, from molecule to organism, from individual to population and community. The department focusses on fish stress adaptation and calcium physiology, but also on how ecophysiological trade-offs interact with the environment and impact population dynamics and macroevolutionary processes.

Plant Systems Physiology

Plant Systems Physiology

Plant roots have the extraordinary capability to generate diverse types of tissues and lateral organs (such as the root cap, lateral roots, nodules, root sprouts and tubers) and to survive in often harsh environmental conditions (such as under flooding and drought conditions, temperature extremes, nutrient shortage, and in the presence of bacterial and fungal pathogens). The Plant Systems Physiology group aims to learn from the roots how plants originate, develop, cope with and recover from environmental stresses.

Plant studies

Experimental Plant Ecology

Plants have a variety of mechanisms to cope with abiotic and biotic stresses, including an array of physiological, genetic and morphological responses. This research group studies the consequences of stress adaptations, with focus on the flooding – drought gradient in combination with nutrient responses. Also, by studying the responses of plant individuals in different abiotic and biotic settings, we can learn how they influence population performance in different plant communities.


The Microbiology department aims to discover the key microbial players in the nitrogen, sulphur and methane cycles in marine and freshwater ecosystems. The research group became famous with anammox bacteria, which oxidise ammonium directly to nitrogen without the need for oxygen. Anammox is now used in compact waste-water treatment installations all over the world.

Research facilities

RIBES researchers make use of state-of-the-art molecular, analytical and microscopy facilities in the modern Huygens building of Radboud University. New greenhouse and growth chambers were specifically designed for RIBES research needs and became operational in 2014.


In July 2014 a new greenhouse complex was put into use. Eight growing rooms  are ranging from 160 to 240 m2. Two small compartments are designated for climate cabinets. The greenhouse is accommodated with an advanced climate control system, shading and energy saving screens. Rainwater coming from the greenhouse roof is stored in basins and after UV treatment used for watering the plants. 


At the Experimental garden, the unique Nijmegen Phytotron is an experimental facility with containers for ecological studies at the mesocosm scale. Positioned under a rain shelter, long-term studies are performed under ambient conditions with water supplied with an automated drip-irrigation system. The Phytotron is designed for studies on belowground processes, including a minirhizotron system for root observations. It is a unique research facility as plant growth and below ground root interaction can be studied in big compartimentalised containers without stressing the plants or destructive methods.

Experimental garden

The experimental field is about 7500 m2, including smaller and larger ponds, and is suitable for diverse field experiments.