Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences

Staff Profile

Professor T. Martin Embley

Professor of Evolutionary Mol. Biology


Research Interests

Our group is interested in the evolution of eukaryotic cells, their genomes and organelles (hydrogenosomes and mitosomes).  We have focused on anaerobic and parasitic eukaroytes including Giardia, Trichomonas, Entamoeba and Microsporidia.

Current Work

Our group which I run jointly with Dr Robert Hirt has the following research foci:

We are using whole genome data to investigate the contrasting roles of vertical and horizontal inheritance, including genes of endosymbiotic origins, in shaping eukaryotic genomes.

We are developing better methods, based upon likelihood and Bayesian approaches, for phylogenetic analysis of molecular data.  Our aim is to improve the reconstruction of phylogenetic trees relevant to understanding the early evolution of eukaryotes.

Cell Biology
We are investigating the functions of organelles (hydrogenosomes, mitosomes) related to mitochondria.  Our investigations are aimed at identifying the core function for eukaryotes of these organelles. 

Esteem Indicators

  • Elected to the European Academy for Microbiology (2016)
  • Vice Chancellor’s Award for Academic Distinction (2016)
  • Opening Plenary Lecture, Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution Annual Meeting, Dublin, Ireland (2012)
  • Member of Editorial Board, Genome Biology and Evolution (2011-)
  • Elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (2011)
  • Awarded ERC Advanced Investigator Award (2011-2017)
  • Elected Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (2010)
  • Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2006-2011)
  • Elected Fellow of the American Academy for Microbiology (2008)
  • Associate Editor, Molecular Biology and Evolution (2002-2011)
  • Member of Editorial Board, Environmental Microbiology (2000-2006)
  • Member of the Canadian Institute of Advanced Research, Evolutionary Biology (1996-2007)


  • Scientific Associate, Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum (2004-)


Postgraduate Teaching

International workshops
We have run an EMBO World Program workshop on Molecular Systematics in Brazil. The teaching material including slides on phylogenetic analysis and an interactive tutorial can be downloaded without restrictions via the EMBO World 09 link on our lab web page.  We will be running an updated version of the course funded by EMBO in 2017 in Faro, Portugal.