We are interested in parasite genomics and the biology of genome evolution. How do genomes evolve? Can we trace gene order, identify and determine the fate of horizontally transferred genes (as well as any existing endogenous orthologs) and identify genes that are phylogenetically restricted? The answers to these questions are important because of the insight they provide into parasite biology and the identification of potential drug targets. Our research focuses on, but is not limited to, Apicomplexan parasites. The Apicomplexa are ideal for phylogenomic studies for several reasons:
- All of the estimated 5000 species of Apicomplexa are believed to be parasitic
- The Apicomplexa have a rich evolutionary history that includes endosymbiotic events and extensive gene transfer
- There are currently genome sequences available for more than a dozen species and hundreds of new genome and strain sequencing projects are underway in addition to numerous RNA-Seq, and ChIP-Seq projects for prominent members of this phylum including numerous Plasmodium species (the causative agent of malaria), Theileria, Babesia, Eimeria, Sarcocystis, Toxoplasma and Cryptosporidium.
Our approach is to apply molecular, computational and phylogenetic tools to the analysis of parasite genomes. Projects include the development of tools for data integration, data mining, comparative genomics and assessing the phylogenetic distribution of genes. We utilize standard molecular biology techniques as well as powerful high-performance computing approaches. We welcome students interested in working on the bench, at the computer, or both.