Exploration, expansion and reshaping of the tree of life

Driven by the development of powerful sequencing technologies, the existing microbial diversity on our planet is currently being genomically explored in rapid pace.

About the project

The current deluge of microbial genome sequence data allows us to infer characteristics of the physiology, ecology and evolution of organisms without the need for cultivation. Using genome-resolved metagenomics approaches we reconstruct and study genomes of prokaryotic groups that remain poorly studied, including various archaeal and bacterial lineages.

Besides obtaining new insight into the biology and ecophysiology of these new lineages, we perform phylogenomic and comparative genomics analyses to study their evolutionary past. Of particular interest are major evolutionary transitions such as the symbiogenic origin of the eukaryotic cell via the cellular merger between an (Asgard) archaeal host cell and a proteobacterial symbiont.

Aim of the project

Via (phylo)genomic exploration of present-day relatives of the archaeal host cell and bacterial symbiont(s), we aim to elucidate new details about the process of eukaryogenesis.


  • Laura Wenzel (PhD student)
  • Stephan Koestlbacher (Postdoc, starting 2021)

External Researchers

  • Jennah Dharamshi (PhD student, Uppsala University)
  • Max-Emil Schoen (PhD student, Uppsala University)