Diplomonads is a group of eukaryotes that strives in oxygen-poor environments that have gained attention because of their pathogenicity, basic cell structure and evolutionary peculiarities. For example, most diplomonads have two transcriptionally active nuclei and no sexual cycle have been observed although there are various signs of recombination. Most research has previously been focused on a single species, Giardia intestinalis, which is an important human intestinal pathogen.
We are currently targeting several diplomonad species found in different niches (free-living, commensals and pathogens). This research is performed in a larger group which is using a wide array of methods, ranging from experimental fish infections to advanced phylogenetic methods. The aim is to gain insight into different aspects of the cell biology, pathogenicity and evolution of various diplomonads.
Within our group we mainly focus on evolutionary aspects of diplomonad biology. We use bioinformatic tools, such as assembly, annotation and phylogenetics, to address evolutionary questions such as:
- adaptation of diplomonad lineages to increasing oxygen-levels during the evolution to pathogenic lifestyles
- secondarily adaptation to a free-living lifestyle by diplomonads such as Trepomonas and Hexamita
- genome structure evolution and the relationship to sexual or parasexual life cycles