Dr James Gahan
Senior Lecturer
ERC Horizon Europe
Gahan Lab Website

Ábhair Spéise

  • Animal Evolution
  • Differentiation and Development
  • Gene Regulation

Achoimre ar Thaighde

Our group is interested in how changes in genome regulation contributed to animal evolution. To address this knowledge gap, we aim to reconstruct the origin and evolution of cell-type-specific gene expression by investigating the gene-regulatory mechanisms that drive life history transitions.

Phylogenetic tree showing animal relatives with choanoflagellates being the closest. [Source]

We use a variety of approaches to achieve our aim, largely involving genomics, transcriptomics, and microscopy. We apply these techniques in elegant experiments performed in the closest living relatives of animals: choanoflagellates.

Choanoflagellates are the closest living unicellular relatives of animals and thus, offer insights into the earliest stages of animal evolution.

The primary species utilized in the lab in Salpingoeca rosetta which is a useful model organism for several reasons. Firstly, it has a life cycle with many different stages which allows us to compare gene expression and chromatin in different cell types and throughout development. S.rosetta also has a small genome (~55 Mb) and a chromosome level assembly is available. In addition, valuable work in S. rosetta has led to the development of transgenesis and genome editing tools, allowing us to perform functional experiments.

Life Cycle of Salpingoeca rosetta.

Choanoflagellate colony showing DNA in cyan, microtubules in grey and actin in magenta. Photo: Jeffrey Colgren.

Although S. rosetta is our primary model, we are also interested in expanding our approach to include new choanoflagellates and beyond.


Evolution, life history transition, development, differentiation, cellular identity, choanoflagellate, Salpingoeca rosetta, gene regulation, genome engineering.

Croítheichníochtaí Taighde

  • Genomics & Genome Editing
  • Transcriptomics
  • Micreascóipeacht

Foilseacháin Roghnaithe

Foilseacháin is Déanaí

Nascanna Áisiúil

University Profile

Téigh i dTeagmháil!