Go Back

Photo of Patrick Keeling

Patrick Keeling Microbiologist

Patrick Keeling’s research group studies the genomics, evolution and cell biology of protists and fungi, both microbial eukaryotes (cells that store their genetic material in a nucleus) of great complexity at the cellular and molecular levels. Although protists and fungi compose the vast majority of eukaryotic diversity, relatively little is known about their history or biology. Keeling’s group uses molecular biology, microscopy and genome sequencing to change that. Their research creates new knowledge on several fronts. One focus is on cellular organelles such as mitochondria and plastids, from which we can learn about how the process of endosymbiosis, or the merging of two cells, can lead to a new life form with characteristics different from either of the partners. The Keeling lab also focuses on parasitism and how sophisticated intracellular parasites arise from free-living ancestors and how this process affects their cells, genomes and metabolism.


Senior Scholar Award, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, 2006.

E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship, 2004.

New Investigator Award, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, 2001.

New Investigator award, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 2001.

Relevant Publications

E. Hehenberger et al, "Evidence for the retention of two evolutionary distinct plastids in dinoflagellates with diatom endosymbionts," Gen. Biol. Evol., vol. 6, pp. 2321-2334, 2014.



Program Director Integrated Microbial Biodiversity

Senior Fellow Integrated Microbial Biodiversity


University of British ColumbiaDepartment of Botany


PhD (Biochemistry) Dalhousie University

HBSc (Genetics) University of Western Ontario



Ideas Related to Patrick Keeling

Integrated Microbial Biodiversity | News

First photos emerge of elusive marine predators

A global team of CIFAR researchers has captured the first images of a microbe that is one of the most abundant predators in the ocean, yet has until now remained unseen.

Integrated Microbial Biodiversity | Feature

Healthy Oceans

Last April, Patrick Keeling and Forest Rohwer were driving back to their hotel after a long day of diving off...

Integrated Microbial Biodiversity | News

Mitochondria, plastids evolved together into this single-celled plankton’s “eye”

Scientists have peered into the eye-like structure of single-celled marine plankton called warnowiids and found it contains many of the...

Integrated Microbial Biodiversity | News

Malaria co-opted its symbiotic tools to become a parasite

The type of parasite that causes malaria was once algae that lived in symbiosis with other organisms. Now researchers have...