The origin and evolution of eukaryotic cells is one of the most exciting yet poorly understood phenomena in all of cell biology. Using gene phylogenies combined with techniques such as electron microscopy and confocal microscopy my research focuses on the structural similarities between protists (protozoa, algae, zoosporic fungi) and how these relate to the evolution and diversification of eukaryotes.
Presently my research is centered on identifying and understanding the basic cell biology of those protists that may provide insights into the nature of the ancestor of all present-day eukaryotes. One result of this work has been to challenge long held beliefs about the relationships between various parasitic protozoa (trypanosomes, trichomonads, Giardia etc.) and free living protists. We are also examining the multiple ways in which protists utilize their cilia for functions other than microtubule sliding based locomotion. Chemosensing, photosensing, mechanosensing, and cell gliding are all functions of protist cilia that may have played an important in cliary origins and evolution. These findings will help not only in our understanding of parasitic organisms but more importantly they will help us to understand some of the basic cellular processes of eukaryotic cells.
Farmer MA, Habura A. Using protistan examples to dispel the myths of intelligent design. J Eukaryot Microbiol. 2010 Jan 1;57(1):3-10.
Gile GH, Faktorová D, Castlejohn CA, Burger G, Lang BF, Farmer MA, Lukes J, Keeling PJ. Distribution and phylogeny of EFL and EF-1alpha in Euglenozoa suggest ancestral co-occurrence followed by differential loss. PLoS One. 2009;4(4):e5162. Epub 2009 Apr 9.
Triemer, R.E. & Farmer, M.A. (2007). A decade of euglenoid molecular phylogenetics. In: Unravelling the algae: the past, present and future of algal systematics. (Brodie, J. & Lewis, J. eds). Systematics Association Series, CRC Press. (In Press).
Sina M. Adl, Brian S. Leander, Alastair G. B. Simpson, John M. Archibald, O. Roger Anderson, David Bass, Samuel S. Bowser, Guy Brugerolle, Mark A. Farmer, Sergei Karpov, Martin Kolisko, Chris Lane, Louise A. Lewis, Jean Lodge, David G. Mann, Richard M. McCourt, Ralf Meisterfeld, Leonel Mendoza, Georges Merinfeld, Øjvind Moestrup, Sharon E. Mozley-Standridge, Alexey V. Smirnov, Frederick Spiegel. 2007. Diversity, Nomenclature and Taxonomy of Protists. Systematic Biology. 56:684-689.
Nudelman, M.A., Leonardi, P.I., Conforti, V., Farmer, M.A. and Triemer, R.E. 2006. Fine structure and taxonomy of Monomorphina aenigmatica comb. nov. (Euglenophyta). Journal of Phycology 42:194-202.
Adl*, M.S., Simpson*, A.G.B., Farmer*, M.A., Andersen, R.A., Anderson, O.R., Barta, J.R., Bowser, S.S., Brugerolle, G., Fensome, R.A., Fredericq, S., James, T.Y., Karpov, S., Kugrens, P., Krug, J., Lane, C.E., Lewis, L.A., Lodge, J., Lynn, D.H., Mann, D.G., McCourt, R.M., Mendoza, L., Moestrup, Ø., Mozley-Standridge, S.E., Nerad, T.A., Shearer, C.A., Smirnov, A.V., Spiegel, F.W., and Taylor, F. J. R. 2005. The new higher level classification of eukaryotes with emphasis on the taxonomy of protists. J Euk Microbiol 52:399-451. * = co-first authors.