TJG (Thijs) Ettema TJG (Thijs) Ettema


Thijs J. G. Ettema (1977) is an evolutionary microbiologist at Wageningen University (The Netherlands) where he heads the Laboratory of Microbiology. His research focuses on the exploration of microbial diversity with next-generation genomics and various cultivation approaches. He received his PhD at Wageningen University in 2005. After a brief postdoctoral stay at the Radboud University in Nijmegen (The Netherlands), he moved to Uppsala University (Sweden) in 2006, where he was appointed as associate professor at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology in 2014. In 2019, he was appointed as chair professor at Wageningen University. His research group has a broad research focus and works on a variety of scientific questions connected to microbial diversity and evolution that cover all Domains of Life, as well as viruses. One overarching theme in his research involves studying evolutionary transitions, including the origin of complex cells types (eukaryotes). His research group discovered a new group of archaea, the Asgard archaea, providing new, compelling evidence that complex cellular life evolved from an archaeal ancestor that already contained several eukaryotic traits. Thijs Ettema is the recipient of the 2007 Kluyver award by the Royal Dutch Society for Microbiology, he was named ‘Future Research Leader’ by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research in 2012, and was elected EMBO Young Investigator by the European Molecular Biology Organization in 2016. His research is, amongst others, funded by the European Research Council.

Key papers:

Spang, A., Saw, J.H., Jørgensen, S.L., Zaremba-Niedzwiedzka, K., Martijn, J., Lind, A.E., Van Eijk, R., Schleper, C., Guy, L., and Ettema, T.J.G. (2015) Complex archaea that bridge the gap between prokaryotes and eukaryotes, Nature 521, 173–179. 

Zaremba-Niedzwiedzka, K., Caceres E.F., Saw, J.H., Bäckström D., Juzokaite, L., Vancaester, E., Seitz, K.W., Anantharaman K., Starnawski, P., Kjeldsen, K.U., Stott, M.B., Nunoura, T., Banfield, J.F., Schramm, A., Baker, B.J., Spang, A., and Ettema, T.J.G. (2017) Asgard archaea illuminate the origin of eukaryotic cellular complexity. Nature 541, 353–358.

Martijn, J., Vosseberg, J., Guy, L., Offre, P. and Ettema, T.J.G. (2018) Deep mitochondrial origin outside the sampled alphaproteobacteria. Nature 557 (7703), 101-105.

Spang, A., Caceres, E.F. and Ettema, T.J.G. (2017) Genomic exploration of the diversity, ecology, and evolution of the archaeal domain of life. Science 357, eaaf3883.

Spang, A., Stairs, C.W., Dombrowski, N., Eme, L., Lombard, J., Cáceres, E.F., Greening, C., Baker, B.J. and Ettema, T.J.G. (2019) Proposal of the reverse flow model for the origin of the eukaryotic cell based on comparative analysis of Asgard archaeal metabolism, Nature Microbiol. 4, 1138-1148. 

Lewis, W.H., Tahon, G., Geesink, P., Sousa, D.Z. and Ettema, T.J.G. (2021) Innovations to culturing the uncultured microbial majority. Nature Reviews Microbiol. 19, 225-240.

Tamarit, D., Caceres, E.F., Krupovic, M., Nijland, R., Eme, L., Robinson, N.P., and Ettema, T.J.G. (2022) A closed Candidatus Odinarchaeum chromosome exposes Asgard archaeal viruses, Nature Microbiol. 7, in press.