Matthew Brown

Office: 08 Harned Hall
Phone: (662) 325-2406


B.S. Biology, University of Arkansas

Ph.D. Biology, University of Arkansas


Postdoctoral Research

Centre for Comparative Genomics and Evolutionary Bioinformatics, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University


Statement of Research Interests

The Brown laboratory focuses on the evolutionary biology of eukaryotes using microbes (protists) to better resolve the overall tree of Life. Our lab is most interested in the evolutionary trajectory leading to multicellularity. The multicellular world is far more diverse than just the animals, plants, and fungi that we notice everyday. Brown’s research has shown that the tendency towards multicellularity is rampant across the breadth of the tree of Life. In particular, we are interested in the cellular slime molds, which is a type of organism that exists as a single cell (usually an amoeba) in the environment, were it feeds on bacteria or yeast cells. However, when these cells are faced with a hardship, like starvation, they signal to other cells in the vicinity to work together to form an emergent structure. Our research has shown that this type of emergent behavior has evolved at least seven times in the history of eukaryotes. We are now using comparative genomics and development transcriptomics to better understand how these organisms converged onto a similar mode of multicellularity. The Brown lab is also interested in recovering better resolution at the base of tree of Life where rapid evolutionary diversification occurred leading to the major groups of eukaryotes that we recognize today. We are utilizing a diverse set of approaches from classical protistological techniques to next-generation sequencing, bioinformatics, and phylogenomics.


Recent Peer-reviewed Publications

Eme L, Sharpe SC, Brown MW, Roger AJ. 2014. On the age of eukaryotes: Evaluating evidence from fossils and molecular clocks. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology DOI: 10.1101/cshperspect.a016139.

Kamikawa R, Kolisko M, Nishimura Y, Yabuki A, Brown MW, Ishikawa SA, Ishida K, Roger AJ, Hashimoto T, Inagaki Y. 2014. Gene-content evolution in discobid mitochondria deduced from the phylogenetic position and complete mitochondrial genome of Tsukubamonas globosa. Genome Biology and Evolution DOI:10.1093/gbe/evu015.

Suga H, Torruella G, Burger G, Brown MW, Ruiz-Trillo I. 2014. Earliest holozoan expansion of phosphotyrosine signaling. Molecular Biology and Evolution DOI: 10.1093/molbev/mst241.

Brown MW, Sharpe SC, Silberman JD, Heiss A, Lang BF, Simpson AGB, Roger AJ. 2013. Phylogenomics demonstrates that breviate flagellates are related to opisthokonts. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 280: 20131755.

Suga H, Chen Z, de Mendoza A, Sebé-Pedrós A, Brown MW, Kramer E, Carr M, Kerner P, Vervoort M, Sánchez-Pons N, Torruella G, Derelle R, Manning G, Lang BF, Russ C, Haas BJ, Roger AJ, Nusbaum C, Ruiz-Trillo I. 2013. The Capsaspora genome reveals a complex unicellular prehistory of animals. Nature Communications 4:2325.

Kamikawa R, Brown MW, Nishimura Y, Sako Y, Heiss AA, Yubuki N, Gawryluk R, Simpson AGB, Roger AJ, Hashimoto T, Inagaki Y. 2013. Parallel re-modeling of EF-1α function: divergent EF-1α genes co-occur with EFL genes in diverse distantly related eukaryotes. BMC Evolutionary Biology 13:131.

Harding T, Brown MW, Plotnikov A, Selivanova E, Park JS, Gunderson JH, Baumgartner M, Silberman JD, Roger AJ, Simpson AGB. 2013. Amoeba stages in the deepest branching heteroloboseans, including Pharyngomonas: evolutionary and systematic implications. Protist 164(2): 272-286.

Adl SM, Simpson AGB, Lane CE, Lukes J, Bass D, Bowser SS, Brown MW, Burki F, Dunthorn M, Hampl V, Heiss A, Hoppenrath M, Lara E, Legall L, Lynn DH, McManus H, Mitchell EAD, Mozley-Stanridge SE, Parfrey LW, Pawlowski J, Rueckert S, Shadwick LL, Schoch C, Smirnov A, Spiegel FW. 2012. The revised classification of eukaryotes. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology 59(5): 429–514.

Brown MW, Kolisko M, Silberman JD, Roger AJ. 2012. Aggregative multicellularity evolved independently in the eukaryotic supergroup Rhizaria. Current Biology 22(12): 1123-1127.

Brown MW, Silberman JD, Spiegel FW. 2012. A contemporary evaluation of the acrasids (Acrasidae, Heterolobosea, Excavata). European Journal of Protistology 48(2): 103-123.


Invited Book Chapters

Brown MW, Silberman JD. 2013. The Non-Dictyostelid Sorocarpic Amoebae. In Romeralo, Escalante, Baldauf (Eds.) Dictyostelids - Evolution, Genomics and Cell Biology. Springer, Heidelberg Germany. pp 219-242.

Schnittler M, Novozhilov YK, Romeralo M, Brown MW, Spiegel FW. 2012. Fruit body-forming protists: Myxomycetes and Myxomycete-like organisms Acrasia, Eumycetozoa. In Frey (Ed.) Engler’s Syllabus of Plant Families, 13th ed. Part 1: Blue-green Algae, Myxomycetes and Myxomycete-like Organisms, Phytoparasitic protists, Heterotrophic Heterokontobionta and Fungi. Borntraeger Science Publishers, Berlin.