Patrick Keeling, Ph.D.

University of British Columbia


Evolution of protists: complex single celled organisms that originated though symbiosis and continue to form symbiotic relationships with every other kind of life on the planet.

Patrick Keeling, Ph.D.

Research Description

My lab studies the origin, evolution and ecological diversity of protists to better understand the tree of life and the fundamental evolutionary processes at its foundation.

Symbiosis shapes the tree of life at many levels – symbiosis was integral to the very origin of complex cells, and protists continue to survive and thrive in literally millions of different symbiotic associations. Using methods from molecular and cell biology, genomics and environmental microbiology, my lab focuses on understanding basic evolutionary principles of symbiosis. This includes how symbiotic organelles integrated with their host cell, how bacterial symbionts evolve inside protist hosts, and how protist symbionts evolve in animal hosts such as corals.


related links

Science Symbiosis in Aquatic Systems University of British Columbia, Botany Department Back


  • B.S., Genetics, University of Western Ontario, Canada
  • Ph.D., Biochemistry, Dalhousie University, Canada
  • Postdoctoral study, Parasitology, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Postdoctoral study, Molecular Evolution, Indiana University, USA