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Sogin, Mitchell Distinguised Scientist, Josephine Bay Paul Center

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Mitchell L. Sogin combines his training in molecular evolution and microbiology to investigate the diversity and evolution of single-cell organisms. Sogin’s pioneering use of molecular phylogeny produced the reference framework for understanding the evolution of microbial eukaryotes. He documented the earliest diverging eukaryotic lineages, provided the first evidence of a specific link between animals and fungi to the exclusion of all other eukaryotes, discovered a novel assemblage of heterotrophic and photosynthetic eukaryotes (the Stramenopiles), and demonstrated that the AIDS pathogen Pneumocystis shares a recent common evolutionary history with fungi instead of with parasitic protozoa that cause malaria. In addition to genome sequencing of parasitic genomes, Dr. Sogin’s other contributions include description of the first in vitro ribosomal RNA processing system; the first evidence that self-splicing group I introns undergo lateral transfer between eukaryotic rRNA genes; demonstration that rRNAs in the parasite Plasmodium falciparum are differentially regulated depending upon life cycle stage; the first use of PCR to amplify and sequence ribosomal RNA genes; and the first use of next generation DNA sequencing to characterize complex microbial communities which led to discovery of the rare biosphere. As part of the Census of Marine Life, Sogin formed and led the International Census of Marine Microbes and he recently worked with Isabelle Daniel to establish the Deep Life Directorate of the Deep Carbon Observatory.

selected publications