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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

Reach Magazine | Integrated Microbial Biodiversity

Art of Science: Weaponized microbes

In the microscopic arms race between predator and prey, billions of years of evolution have given some organisms fearsome weaponry such...

News | Integrated Microbial Biodiversity

War in a water droplet

In oceans around the world, billions of microscopic soldiers are waging war using complex weapons that operate like harpoons and...

Video | Integrated Microbial Biodiversity

Collaborative Field-Based Research: CIFAR’s program in Integrated Microbial Biodiversity

“You never know what you’re going to find… that’s the unpredictability aspect of all these expeditions,” says Senior Fellow Julius...

News | Integrated Microbial Biodiversity

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.

Feature | Integrated Microbial Biodiversity

Healthy Oceans

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