Photo of Eugene Koonin's Research Group

Eugene V. Koonin

Senior Investigator
National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)
National Library of Medicine (NLM)
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Bldg. 38A, Room 5N503
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894, USA
Tel: (301) 435-5913
Fax: (301) 435-7794 or (301) 480-9241

Principal Research Interests

We are interested in understanding the evolution of life. To obtain glimpses of such understanding, we employ existing and new methods of computational biology to perform research in several major areas.

  1. Empirical comparative and evolutionary genomics: comparison of prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes with the aim of predicting gene functions, constructing evolutionary scenarios for particular gene families and functional categories, and deciphering general evolutionary trends. An evolutionary phenomenon we are particularly interested in is horizontal gene transfer between diverse organisms, in particular, from prokaryotes to eukaryotes and vice versa. One of the important outcomes of research in this area is the system of Clusters of Orthologous Genes (COGs).
  2. Exploration of the "Phylogenetic Forest": comparative analysis of phylogenetic trees for individual genes and identification of common trends between them. Development of more comprehensive approaches to the representation of genome evolution that combine tree-like and net-like trends.
  3. Exploitation of genome comparisons, particularly, those between relatively close genomes, for addressing fundamental issues of evolutionary biology such as the nature and intensity of adaptation and selection in different categories of genes and different organismal lineages.
  4. Classification and evolutionary analysis of protein domains and domain architectures. An important dimension in this type of research is discovery of "new" domains that are shared by many diverse proteins but have not been defined previously.
  5. Origin and evolution of viruses.
  6. General physical principles of evolution.