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Arkhipova, Irina Associate Scientist, Josephine Bay Paul Center


Dr. Irina Arkhipova is a molecular evolutionary geneticist who is interested in the role of mobile genetic elements in eukaryotic genome structure, function and evolution. She studies the genomes of bdelloid rotifers, tiny aquatic invertebrates best known for their long-term asexuality and the ability to withstand frequent cycles of desiccation and rehydration at any life stage. She discovered that bdelloid genomes contain significant amounts of foreign DNA horizontally transferred from sources as diverse as bacteria, fungi, protists, and plants. She also described a novel class of intron-containing retroelements that may play a role in telomere maintenance and share a common ancestor with telomerase reverse transcriptases. Current research directions in her lab include elucidation of the role of reverse transcriptase-related cellular genes, investigation of the involvement of RNA-mediated silencing pathways in genome defense and genome integrity in bdelloids, functional studies of horizontally transferred genes, and rotifer genomic studies that are pursued together with members of several consortium labs. Research in the lab is expanded into fungal or bacterial model systems when they provide better molecular tools for addressing the basic questions that initially emerged from rotifer studies. Dr. Arkhipova’s research is supported by grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation and from the National Institutes of Health. She is a leading expert on transposable elements, which she studied since her undergraduate years. She published over 50 papers on this topic, including articles in high-profile journals such as Science, Cell, Nature Genetics, and PNAS, contributed chapters to books from Wiley, McGraw Hill and Karger, and co-authored a book “Drosophila Retrotransposons” for Landes/Springer. She serves on the national advisory panels and on the editorial board of Mobile DNA, the main specialty journal in the field.

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