Blaxter Group

Evolutionary Genomics

Life has evolved solutions to all the problems that the earth ecosystem poses, and these solutions are encoded in genomes. We are interested in the processes of evolution of genomic novelty and how opportunity and constraint play roles in the origins of the diversity we observe today.

We work within the Tree of Life Programme to generate high-quality genome assemblies for a wide array of species, from across the diversity of life. While our main interets are in the evolution of animals, we also work on plants, fungi and protists, and on the bacterial cobionts that live on and in these species.

Using these high quality genomes we explore

  • the evolutionary history of genes and species, building phylogenetic trees of life
  • the contrasting roles of horizontal gene transfer and introgression in shaping evolution
  • the biology of symbioses, especially symbioses between eukaryotes and bacteria, and between parasites and their hosts
  • the processes that drive the evolution of pattern in the structure of chromosomes
  • the diversity of meiofauna, particularly tardigrades, nematodes and other Ecdysozoa
  • the genomics of extremophilia

To deliver these analyses we develop new software tools for genome assembly, validation and analysis.

Core team

Photo of Dr Richard Challis

Dr Richard Challis

Senior Bioinformatician

Photo of Amjad Khalaf

Amjad Khalaf

PhD Student

Photo of Dr Erna King

Dr Erna King

Postdoctoral Fellow

Photo of Dr Witold Morek

Dr Witold Morek

Advanced Research Assistant

Photo of Dr Lewis Stevens

Dr Lewis Stevens

Senior Bioinformatician

Photo of Dr Jessica A Thomas Thorpe

Dr Jessica A Thomas Thorpe

Janet Thornton Postdoctoral Fellow

Photo of Dr Claudia Weber

Dr Claudia Weber

Senior Bioinformatician

Photo of Charlotte Wright

Charlotte Wright

PhD Student


We work with the following groups



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