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Evolution of the cell

Trypanosomes are unlike model organisms like yeast in several key ways. However, trypanosomes share a common ancestor with all other eukaryotes and the features of this lineage evolved from the same ancestral cell. With the advent of genome sequencing for increasing numbers of eukaryotes, it is becoming possible to compare the complete content of multiple organisms. In this way, we can make predictions about the functions performed by a specific organism, even when that function has not been directly observed. Moreover, by inferring the genomic content of the ancestors to particular lineages, it is possible to look back in time to "observe" long extinct cells in terms of their encoded biology. The lab is using these comparative genomic methods to reconstruct the evolution of key features of eukaryotic cells.

Cytoskeletal features of the eukaryotic cenancestor as inferred from motor evolution. Extract from Wickstead & Gull (2011) J Cell Biol 194:513-25.