The website for the group working with Tom Richards at the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford

"The aim of our research is to understand how eukaryotic cellular complexity –which encompasses plants, animals, fungi and a vast diversity of microbial forms called protists– arose and diversified. To do this, we use phylogenomic approaches combined with cell and molecular experiments. Our team currently work on three major themes."

  • We use phylogenomic approaches to understand the gene ancestry and gene flow across the eukaryotic tree of life from the last eukaryotic common ancestor through to extant taxa. We combine these analyses with synthetic biology approaches to explore the hypothesis that gene transfer has had major phenotypic consequence for evolution and ecology of eukaryotic microbes. Much of our work in this area focuses on pathogen evolution and the evolution of transporter proteins. Combined with this we are also interested in the evolution of membrane traits and the role of gene fusions in the evolution of cellular systems.
  • Endosymbiosis has continually driven diversification of huge sections of the eukaryotic tree of life. Relatively little is known about how endosymbioses are established and how they go on to form long-term stable interactions. We are developing systems biology approaches to identify the gene network that encodes and polices a nascent endosymbiotic interaction.
  • Study of uncultured microbial eukaryotic diversity has continually redefined our understanding of the tree of life. We use environmental DNA approaches combined with microscopy and single cell genome sequencing approaches to understand the biology and ecology of uncultured protists.

The Team!

Click on a person in the image below to find out more!

Vicky Attah Ben Jenkins Paramecium bursaria Fiona Savory David Milner Tom Richards Guy Leonard Estelle Killias Eli Alacid Nuk Nick Irwin

Highlighting our Projects

Ocean Microbiology

Microbial diversity in the oceans and other aquatic ecosystems is vast and drives numerous important ecosystem functions and biogeochemical cycles.

Frog Parasites

The aim of our work in this area is to understand the role of the protist in disease and understand its spread across the globe.