Nick Irwin

Nick is a Junior Research Fellow at Merton College interested in the evolution and diversity of eukaryotic complexity. In 2020, Nick completed his PhD at the University of British Columbia where he studied divergent examples of nuclear biology, specifically chromatin biology in dinoflagellates, DNA replication in ciliates, and the nuclear pore complex in nucleomorphs. A recurring theme that was observed across these organisms was the role viruses play in driving eukaryotic divergence.

Accordingly, Nick’s current research aims to understand the functional and evolutionary impact, frequency, and nature of gene exchange between viruses and eukaryotes. To this end, Nick is using a combination of computational and experimental approaches to understand which genes viruses and eukaryotes exchange and how they are co-opted. Understanding the essence of viral-eukaryotic gene transfer is important as it can provide insights into both eukaryotic biology and evolution as well as viral host-manipulation strategies.

Beyond this work, Nick is broadly interested in protistology, genome and cellular biology, species discovery, phylogeny, and biogeography, among other things. Nick also enjoys cripplingly long walks, bird watching, photography, and camping.

Nick is supported by a Junior Research Fellowship from Merton College.

Selected Publications

  • Irwin, N. A. T., Pittis, A. A., Mathur, V., Howe, L. J., Keeling, P. J., Lynn, D. H., Bourland, W. A. 2020. The function and evolution of motile DNA replication systems in ciliates. Current Biology. In press.
  • Irwin, N. A. T. & Keeling, P. J. 2019. Extensive reduction of the nuclear pore complex in nucleomorphs. Genome Biology and Evolution. 11:678-687
  • Irwin, N. A. T., Tikhonenkov, D., Hehenberger, E., Mylnikov, A., Burki, F., & Keeling, P. J. 2019. Phylogenomics supports the monophyly of the Cercozoa. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 130:416-423
  • Irwin, N. A. T., Martin, B. J. E., Young, B. P., Browne, M. J. G., Flaus, A., Loewen, C. J. R., Keeling, P. J., & Howe, L. J. 2018. Viral proteins as a potential driver of histone depletion in dinoflagellates. Nature Communications. 9:1535
  • Irwin, N. A. T., Sabetrasekh, M., & Lynn, D. H. 2017. Diversification and Phylogenetics of Mobilid Peritrichs (Ciliophora) with Description of Urceolaria parakorschelti sp. nov. Protist. 168:481-493
  • Irwin, N. A. T. & Lynn, D. H. 2015. Molecular phylogeny of Mobilid and Sessilid ciliates symbiotic in Eastern Pacific limpets (Mollusca: Patellogastropoda). Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology. 62:543-552