ABOUT Danny Haelewaters

Avatar of Danny Haelewaters

My name is Danny Haelewaters, I'm a mycologist and evolutionary biologist. My research focuses on the Laboulbeniales, an enigmatic group of microscopic and ectoparasitic fungi.

Born and raised in Belgium (Europe), I completed my undergraduate and master's program in Biology at Ghent University. Since mid 2012 my wife Sarah and I live in the US. Currently, I am a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology of Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts). In addition to my job as a researcher I also write popular science articles.

Do you have any questions and want to contact me? Just send me an email at dhaelewaters[at]fas.harvard.edu.


Danny Haelewaters: All Posts


Climate change and shrinking fishes

Posted 11 June 2013 by Danny Haelewaters

Anthropogenic global warming is everywhere. Nearly every week, new research with impacts of a warming Earth gets published. Global climate change is recognized as an important determining factor for the future distributions of marine organisms, notably fishes and invertebrates. It had already been suggested that the most prominent biological responses are changes in distribution, phenology, and productivity. More specifically, using temperature data since 1960, last year an international team of researchers found that life under water must migrate several hundreds... Read more

Great research, unexpected conclusion – Why fish is so good for you (?)

Posted 7 May 2013 by Danny Haelewaters

A few weeks ago I encountered two articles about unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids and their mechanism. Great research, but the tagline that was coupled with these studies - Why fish is so good for you - came rather unexpected. What follows are some commentary thoughts that have been crossing my mind since then. claimtoken-5192ec88c1031 In fatty fish species, as are anchovy, herring, mackerel, and salmon, unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA) are abundantly found. Their health-promoting... Read more

Effective skin protection in freshwater turtles

Posted 29 April 2013 by Danny Haelewaters

An Italian research team found that peptides As-BD-1 to 4, BD standing for beta-defensin, which are present in the epidermis, may be the cause of the resistance to bacterial penetration in Apalone spinifera turtles. Apalone spinifera (or Trionyx spiniferus) is the spiny soft-shell freshwater turtle, named for its short spiny projections on the anterior carapace edge. From a general point of view, turtles are characterized by their shell, which is corneous and supported in the dermis by dermal bones, protecting... Read more

Forensic Mycology: Taking Hebeloma to Court

Posted 22 March 2013 by Danny Haelewaters

A few years ago, I must have been 2009, I was part of the Netherlands Forensic Institute, in particular of the Line Department Microtraces (Non Human Biological Traces). This experience has had great impact on my evolution as a scientist. Likewise, I’ve become more than moderately interested in forensics – the study of evidence discovered at a crime scene and used in a court of law. Forensic science is a multidisciplinary field, considering the full range of botanical, zoological, and... Read more

Parasite host specificity related to host susceptibility to be killed?

Posted 8 March 2013 by Danny Haelewaters

In a previous post I introduced the Laboulbeniales: microscopic ascomycetous fungi that parasitize invertebrates, mainly beetles. The past few weeks my head was running fast on reading and developing theories on those mysterious organisms. Parasite having its own troubles A parasite, any parasite, has one huge problem: an individual must meet all its nutritional demands and avoid all its enemies on that one host or it dies. Especially for ectoparasites, as are Laboulbeniales, living attached to their host can be... Read more

Has evolutionary history led us to today’s rapes?

Posted 20 January 2013 by Danny Haelewaters

My mother always said that the world has come to its end. In a way, she was right. Not literally, of course. The earth will not stop turning around the sun. I’m talking about our species here. We think we are good in what we do, and, again, in a way, that is true. In only a few thousand years we have developed the skills to look through microscopes and see microscopic cells floating around in media we made ourselves,... Read more

Microscopic fungal parasites reveal host’s behavior

Posted 14 November 2012 by Danny Haelewaters

Mycologists have long debated about which organisms should be or should be not counted as fungi. The Kingdom Fungi includes a lot of biodiversity; an estimate of 5.1 million species has been suggested [1], comprising all sorts of things - molds, the well-known mushrooms, plant and insect parasites, polypores, and some important model organisms such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. To date, however, most fungi remain unknown and uncharacterized. The Laboulbeniales are perhaps (probably!) the most intriguing and yet the least studied... Read more

Sea turtles under pressure

Posted 30 October 2012 by Danny Haelewaters

Costa Rica - It has been named the promised land of biodiversity, Mother of Ecotourism, and it also harbors one of the most important nesting sites for sea turtles. Five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles nest regularly on Costa Rica’s beaches. How spectacular and breathtaking is it to see a sea turtle crawl up onto the beach and nest? A highlight for sure for those chasing fascinating nature experiences, but be careful: these last members of prehistorical animal... Read more

Exserohilum rostratum, the killing fungus

Posted 24 October 2012 by Danny Haelewaters

There are hundreds of topics I could write about. The hardest part about writing is choosing a suitable topic and sticking with it until the end. This time, however, it was a little easier than normally due to the interesting nature of Exserohilum rostratum. Ever heard of it? It’s a fungus that seems to cause fatal meningitis, right now. Wait, right now?! Let’s find out what is going on. It’s been a while since Charles Frank Drechsler (1923) described the... Read more