HudsonAlpha seminar details how studying yeast reveals new information about evolutionary processes

Fungi took center stage at this HudsonAlpha seminar from Antonis Rokas, PhD. Rokas, of Vanderbilt University, explained how his study of yeast could help reveal evolutionary patterns and processes with broader applications.

Rokas explained that yeasts have very small genomes when compared to other similarly diverse organisms. This gives researchers a cost-effective way to trace evolution through sequencing. Fungi are, on the whole, genomically flexible, meaning you can hybridize despite a wide array of genomic differences between species. This ease of hybridization provides excellent opportunity for tracking how traits are gained and lost along the evolutionary chain.

By sequencing 332 different yeast genomes, Rokas and collaborators could reveal the striking genomic diversity of the fungi. They’re also able to create a more complete phylogeny — or “Tree of Life” — to show evolutionary paths.

This seminar was hosted by Greg Barsh, MD, PhD.

More information on HudsonAlpha Research Seminars, including the upcoming schedule, can be found at