Arthur Zwaenepoel

Arthur Zwaenepoel — PhD Student
Joined the group in 2017

As a computational life scientist in a broad sense, I am interested in what we can and can not learn about life from genomes. More specifically I am interested in what these genome sequences tell us about the evolution of life on earth. In my research I will be focusing on the significance of (ancient) polyploidization events for plant evolution through the use of comparative genomics, phylogenomics and molecular evolution. Also I would like to study the interplay between evolutionary, ecological and demographic factors that might have led to an increased establishment of polyploid species during periods of environmental upheaval.

Perhaps the first lesson to be learned from biology is that there are lessons to be learned from biology. - Robert Rosen (2013), Essays on Life Itself

Birth: February 20, 1995, Ghent (Belgium)


September 2012 - June 2015: Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry & Biotechnology, Ghent University
September 2013 - June 2015: Honours programme: Quetelet Colleges, Ghent University
September 2015 - June 2017: Master of Science in Bioinformatics (Systems Biology), Ghent University


  1. Zwaenepoel, A., Li, Z., Lohaus, R., & Van de Peer, Y. (2019). Finding evidence for whole genome duplications : a reappraisal. MOLECULAR PLANT, 12(2), 133–136.
  2. Zwaenepoel, Arthur, & Van de Peer, Y. (2019). wgd : simple command line tools for the analysis of ancient whole genome duplications. BIOINFORMATICS.
    MOTIVATION: Ancient whole genome duplications (WGDs) have been uncovered in almost all major lineages of life on Earth and the search for traces or remnants of such events has become standard practice in most genome analyses. This is especially true for plants, where ancient WGDs are abundant. Common approaches to find evidence for ancient WGDs include the construction of KS distributions and the analysis of intragenomic co-linearity. Despite the increased interest in WGDs and the acknowledgement of their evolutionary importance, user-friendly and comprehensive tools for their analysis are lacking. Here, we present an easy to use command-line tool for KS distribution construction named wgd. The wgd suite provides commonly used KS and co-linearity analysis workflows together with tools for modeling and visualization, rendering these analyses accessible to genomics researchers in a convenient manner. AVAILABILITY & IMPLEMENTATION: wgd is free and open source software implemented in Python and is available at SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary methods are available at Bioinformatics online.
  3. Zwaenepoel, Arthur, Diels, T., Amar, D., Van Parys, T., Shamir, R., Van de Peer, Y., & Tzfadia, O. (2018). MorphDB : prioritizing genes for specialized metabolism pathways and gene ontology categories in plants. FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE, 9.
    Recent times have seen an enormous growth of "omics" data, of which high-throughput gene expression data are arguably the most important from a functional perspective. Despite huge improvements in computational techniques for the functional classification of gene sequences, common similarity-based methods often fall short of providing full and reliable functional information. Recently, the combination of comparative genomics with approaches in functional genomics has received considerable interest for gene function analysis, leveraging both gene expression based guilt-by-association methods and annotation efforts in closely related model organisms. Besides the identification of missing genes in pathways, these methods also typically enable the discovery of biological regulators (i.e., transcription factors or signaling genes). A previously built guilt-by-association method is MORPH, which was proven to be an efficient algorithm that performs particularly well in identifying and prioritizing missing genes in plant metabolic pathways. Here, we present MorphDB, a resource where MORPH-based candidate genes for large-scale functional annotations (Gene Ontology, MapMan bins) are integrated across multiple plant species. Besides a gene centric query utility, we present a comparative network approach that enables researchers to efficiently browse MORPH predictions across functional gene sets and species, facilitating efficient gene discovery and candidate gene prioritization. MorphDB is available at We also provide a toolkit, named "MORPH bulk" (, for running MORPH in bulk mode on novel data sets, enabling researchers to apply MORPH to their own species of interest.