Jeremy Wideman is an assistant professor in the Biodesign Center for Mechanisms of Evolution and the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. Dr. Wideman’s primary interests lie in understanding how eukaryotic cells evolved and diversified over the last 2 billion years. To do this, he focuses on inferring characteristics of the last eukaryote common ancestor (LECA) using comparative genomics and cell biology. Three major approaches are currently undertaken in the Wideman lab. Single-cell genomics approaches are used to gain insight into uncultured eukaryotes. To infer ancestral functions, LECA genes are expressed in the model yeast Saccaromyces cerevisiae and analyzed using cell biological and biochemical techniques. The lab is currently exploring spatial proteomics to reconstruct protein localizations in LECA.

As an evolutionary cell biologist, my major research interest is understanding how cell complexity and diversity evolved. My approach is to reconstruct the genomic and phenomic characters of the Last Eukaryote Common Ancestor (LECA). LECA was a heterotrophic flagellate with all major eukaryote features established such as the nucleus, mitochondria, flagella and meiotic sex. How these features arose is still a mystery and understanding how they have changed over evolutionary time is essential to explaining extant diversity.

My research seeks to identify novel heterotrophic flagellate groups using single-cell genomics and transcriptomics, expand knowledge of ancestral heterotrophic flagellate (LECA) cell function using heterologous expression systems, and provide eukaryote-wide protein localization maps which can be used to infer LECA’s spatial proteome.

In addition to my interests in evolutionary cell biology, I am also deeply interested in the history and philosophy of biology. In particular, my work has sought to bring further clarity to concepts such as convergent simplification, constructive neutral evolution, as well as LECA itself. Bringing theory and philosophy of biology closer to scientific practice (and vice versa), can lead to fruitful advances in both biology and philosophy.