College of Arts and Sciences

Origin of Multicellularity

About Our Research

In the world of multicellularity, the brown algae represents one of the last lineages to shift from unicellularity to multicellularity in the Eukaryotic Tree of Life. They are also are one of the largest and most important groups of primary producers in marine environments. Yet, how and when brown algae evolved remains an elusive question.

Research in the Phillips lab is focused on addressing when and how the group shifted to multicellularity. We currently have collaborations with colleagues at Rutgers University and University of Florida to use next generation sequencing of the genome of various lineages of brown algae and closely aligned heterokont outgroups.


Phillips, N., Calhoun, S., Moustafa, A., Bhattacharya, D. & Braun, E. (2008). "Genomic insights into evolutionary relationships among heterokont lineages emphasizing the Phaeophyceae." Journal of Phycology. (44:15-18).

Braun, E. & Phillips, N. (2008). "Phylogenomics and secondary plastids: a look back and a look ahead." Journal of Phycology. (44:2-6).