Project Description

Professor Howard Ochman


Department of Integrative Biology
University of Texas, USA

Bioinformatics insights into the evolution of bacterial genomes


Friday 8 July 2016

The field of genomics in considered to have started in 1995 with the appearance of the first full genome sequences of a cellular organism; however, numerous features of bacterial genomes had been elucidated well before that time.  By reconstructing the history of bacterial genome sequencing, it is possible to trace the discovery of the processes, particularly the gene acquisition and gene loss, that impact bacterial genome evolution. Both bioinformatic and experimental studies of bacteria indicate shown that many of our previously held views were inadequate in explaining the features of genomes, and have shown the roles of natural selection and neutral processes in shaping bacterial genomes.

Howard Ochman was trained as a population geneticist at the University of Rochester, where he received his PhD in 1984. Technical advances in molecular biology prompted his switch to studying the organisation and evolution of bacterial genomes, and for the past three decades, he has been applying molecular and computational approaches to investigate the evolution, diversity and interactions among microbes. After a postdoctoral stint in the Department of Biochemistry at UC Berkeley, he worked as a research scientist on the Human Genome Project; and in 1987, moved to Washington University to study the evolution of bacterial pathogenesis. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, he held faculty appointments at the University of Rochester (1991-1998), the University of Arizona (1998-2010) and Yale University (2010-2013).