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Tree of Life


The Tree of Life Programme investigates the diversity of complex organisms (eukaryotes - organisms that have a nucleus) through sequencing and cellular technologies. We generate and use high-quality genome sequences to explore the evolution of life, provide the raw materials for new biotechnology and deliver tools and understanding for biodiversity conservation.

Led by Professor Mark Blaxter this new research Programme focuses on a range of activities, including:

Darwin Tree of Life Project

The Wellcome Sanger Institute is leading the  initiative to decipher the genomes of all 70,000 eukaryotes in Britain and Ireland.

The Project draws together a wide range of partners from museums, botanical gardens, research organisations and universities to collect, sequence and explore the genomes of all animals, plants, fungi and protists in these islands.

Aquatic Symbiosis Genomics

Working with global partners funded through the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Tree of Life is using advanced genomic technologies to probe and understand the biology of symbiosis – where two organisms collaborate closely to achieve evolutionary success. Symbiotic organisms, such as corals, sustain ecosystems and are major components of global diversity.

Faculty-led research

Our faculty work on a wide range of genomics questions related to the origin and diversification of species, the evolutionary mechanisms of genome change and the genomic underpinnings of important phenotypes such as parasitism, invasiveness and survival in extreme environments.

Tree of Life Programme Twitter ChannelTree of Life Twitter channel

The Tree of Life Programme has a Twitter feed of its latest developments, projects and work. To keep up to date with the latest news, please visit: