Who we are and what we are interested in

The Origin and Evolution of Photosynthetic Eukaryotes

Our research group studies diverse aspects of the evolutionary history of plants and algae. We use comparative genomics and phylogenetics to untangle key cellular and molecular mechanisms associated to the establishment of endosymbiotic associations and, particularly, to elucidate the origin and evolution of photosynthetic organelles. 



Oxygenic photosynthesis evolved in cyanobacteria around 3 billion years ago. Later on evolution a certain eukaryote lineage recruited cyanobacteria as permanent endosymbionts. This ancient eukaryote-cyanobacteria association presumably gave rise to the first group of photosynthetic eukaryotes.


It has been hypothesized that all extant eukaryotes bearing plastids surrounded by two membranes, formally called Archaeplastida, descend from that first group of eukaryotes bearing plastids derived from captured cyanobacteria.

origin of primary plastids


July 2021


Check-out our new paper with data from the undergrad course BIOL 4581 !

Winogradsky columns as a strategy to study typically rare microbial eukaryotes

European Journal of Protistology. 2021. 80: 125807

The origin of primary plastid and the first photosynthetic eukaryotes

Diversity of photosynthetic eukaryotes


Despite the extraordinary diversity of photosynthetic eukaryotes, the vast majority of these lineages are directly or indirectly connected to a singular, presumably unique, ancient endosymbiotic association between an eukaryote and cyanobacteria.


There is compelling amount of data showing that after the single origin of primary plastids several secondary acquisitions and losses of photosynthetic organelles have generated an astonishing diversity of photosynthetic eukaryotes. We work with different algal and bacterial models to understand the evolution and early diversification of photosynthetic eukaryotes.