Welcome to the Institute of Molecular Evolution at Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf. Our main scientific interests are endosymbiosis, early evolution, the origin of life, cell evolution, genome evolution and compartmentalized energy metabolism with emphasis on chloroplasts, mitochondria, and hydrogenosomes.
Realistic gene transfer to gene duplication ratios identify different roots in the bacterial phylogeny using a tree reconciliation method
Life 12:995 (2022)
Origins as evolution of catalysts
15.06.2022 Graduation | Jessica Wimmer
Jessica Wimmer successfully finished her doctorate with the thesis entitled
"Energetik und Stoffwechsel des letzten gemeinsamen Urvorfahren".
Dr. Martina Preiner receives Düsseldorfer Förderpreis für Wissenschaften 2021
Ancestral state reconstructions trace mitochondria but not phagocytosis to the last eukaryotic common ancestor
Genome Biology and Evolution (2022)
Bill Martin speaks about his research:
Wie startete das Leben?
In German and English
Bill Martin speaks about how science works, reveals how he chooses a research question and boosts his creativity:
Bill Martin on paying attention
Rheinische Post, a major German regional daily newspaper, published an article about Bill Martin and his research on the origin of life:
Wie das Leben auf der Erde begann
Role of geochemical protoenzymes (geozymes) in primordial metabolism: Specific abiotic hydride transfer by metals to the biological redox cofactor NAD+
The FEBS Journal (2022)
Energy at origins: Favorable thermodynamics of biosynthetic reactions in the last universal common ancestor (LUCA)
Frontiers in Microbiology (2021)
Pyrophosphate and irreversibility in evolution, or why PPi is not an energy currency and why nature chose triphosphates
Frontiers in Microbiology (2021)
17.06.2021 Graduation | Julia Brückner
Julia Brückner successfully finished her doctorate with the thesis entitled
"Analysis of early evolutionary events during the transition from prokaryotes to eukaryotes".
Congratulations to Filipa Sousa, a former Postdoc from our institute, who has been appointed as Associate Professor at the University Wien in Austria.
Our new paper "Evidence for a syncytial origin of eukaryotes from ancestral state reconstruction" by Josip Skejo, Sriram Garg et al. was covered in a news feature by New Scientist. See also our six minute animation about the origin of a syncytial eukaryote common ancestor.
The Nordrhein-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften und Künste published an interview with William Martin about his third ERC Advanced Grant and his research about early evolution and the origin of life.
The European Union will support Prof. Dr. William F. Martin with around 2.5 million euros in the next five years. He was awarded the highly prestigious Advanced Grant in 2020 of the European Research Council (ERC). These Advanced Grants are awarded in a very strict selection process only to established, successful top researchers and are therefore considered a special scientific award. The special award to receive an ERC Advanced Grant, is also documented by the success rate: They fell at the current bid by approximately 8%.
Life in a carbon dioxide world
The metabolic network of the last bacterial common ancestor
Communications Biology 4:413 (2021)
See news reports here
24.03.2021 | In memoriam Tom Cavalier-Smith
Tom was a savant. The human brain typically filters information on comparative morphology, Tom's did not. He rearranged his trees of cells, in his head, at will, for two reasons. First because he was able to do so, something no one else could. Second because there was always the problem that the characters might all be equally important. Weighting one character over the other changed the tree, often at its base, and he was able to then draw the resulting tree and its alternatives in a few minutes, from full throttle short and long term memory at once, sometimes reinterpreting characters in full stride. Those are intellectual feats unimaginable for the rest of us. He diligently put his knowledge in the written record, a great service to us all, for which science will be eternally grateful. Today we talk about Darwin or Haeckel. No one ever heard Tom say I can't remember. The rest of us put together, on the other hand, cannot forget. He was the closest thing to a super-hero that biology has to offer. In 200 years, the only contemporary blologist that science will discuss is Tom Cavalier-Smith. It was an honor to have interacted with him on too few occasions and to have been a biologist during his time.
Gene duplications trace mitochondria to the onset of eukaryote complexity
Genome Biology and Evolution (2021)
The autotrophic core: An ancient network of 404 reactions converts H2, CO2, and NH3 into amino acids, bases, and cofactors
Microorganisms 9:458 (2021)