Algal evolution, genomics, endosymbiosis, red tides, plastids, tree of life
The breathtaking diversity of life that surrounds us is the underlying inspiration for my lab’s research. We have long-standing interests in algal/protist evolution and genomics and specific projects include elucidating the endosymbiotic origin of photosynthetic organelles (plastids), functional genomics of “red tide”-causing dinoflagellates, erecting the eukaryotic tree of life, and studying microRNA evolution.
Key questions that drive ongoing research in our lab are:
1. How do photosynthetic endosymbionts become organelles and how does intracellular gene transfer from the endosymbiont shape nuclear genome evolution?
2. What is the origin of the processes and molecular machines that are essential for the integration of plastid function with overall cellular function?
3. Which environmental and genetic factors control formation of harmful algal blooms (e.g., red tides) and which genes comprise the saxitoxin biosynthetic pathway in the toxic dinoflagellate Alexandrium tamarense?
4. How do the “simple” genomes of unicellular algae respond to the highly complex, changing aquatic environments in which they live?
5. What is the framework of the eukaryotic tree of life?