Laura A. Katz

Elsie Damon Simonds Professor of Biological Sciences

Laura Katz

Contact & Office Hours

Burton Hall 201



Ph.D., Cornell University

A.B., Harvard College


Research Interests

Work in the Katz lab aims to elucidate principles of eukaryotic evolution through phylogenetic reconstruction, community sampling and analyses of genome evolution. The bulk of eukaryotic diversity is microbial, with plants, animals and fungi representing only three of some 60–200 lineages of eukaryotes. Many of these microbial lineages are understudied, yet the limited data available suggest the eukaryotic microbes challenge established principles in biology. We are currently focusing on four aspects of the evolution of eukaryotic microbes:

  1. Assembling the Eukaryotic Tree of Life through Analyses of Eukaryotic Microbes
  2. Phylogeography of Coastal Choreotrich and Oligotrich Ciliates
  3. Molecular Systematics of Ciliates
  4. Genome Evolution in Ciliates

Representative Publications

Peer-reviewed articles

Tekle, Y. I. , J. R. Grant, L. O. R. Anderson, J. C. Cole, T. Nerad, and L. A. Katz. 2008. "Phylogenetic placement of diverse amoebae inferred from multigene analyses and assessment of clade stability within 'Amoebozoa' upon removal of varying rate classes of SSU-rDNA." Mol. Phylo. Evol. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2007.11.015.

Parfrey, L. W., D. Lahr, and L. A. Katz. 2008. "The dynamic nature of eukaryotic genomes." Mol. Biol. Evol. 25: 787–94.

Yoon, H. S., J. R. Grant, Y. I. Tekle, M. Wu, B. C. Chao, J. C. Cole, J. M. Logsdon, D. J. Patterson, D. Bhattacharya, and L.A. Katz. 2008. "Broadly sampled multigene tree of eukaryotes." BMC Evol Biol. 8: 14.

Foissner, W., A. Chao, and L. A. Katz. 2008. "Diversity and geographic distribution of ciliates (Protista: Ciliophora)." Biodiv. Conserv. 17: 345–63.

Tilley, S. G., R. L. Eriksen**, and L. A. Katz. 2008. "Systematics of dusky salamanders, Desmognathus (Caudata: Plethodontidae) in the mountain and Piedmont regions of Virginia and North Carolina, USA." Zool. J. Linnean Soc. 152: 115–30.

Dunthorn, M.S., W. Foissner, and L. A. Katz. 2008. "Molecular phylogenetic analysis of class Colpodea (phylum Ciliophora) using increased taxon sampling." Mol. Phylo. Evol.46: 316–27.

Costas, B., G. McManus, M. Doherty, and L. A. Katz. 2007. "Use of species-specific primers and PCR to measure the distributions of planktonic ciliates in coastal waters." Limnol. Oceanog.: Methods 5: 163–73.

Doherty, M., B. Costas, G. B. McManus, and L. A. Katz. 2007. "Culture-independent assessment of planktonic ciliate diversity in coastal northwest Atlantic waters." Aquat. Microb. Ecol. 48: 141–54.

McGrath, C.**, R. A. Zufall, and L. A. Katz. 2007. "Variation in macronuclear genome content of three ciliates with extensive chromosomal fragmentation: a preliminary analysis." J. Eukaryot. Microbiol. 54: 242–46.

Robinson T.**, and L.A. Katz. 2007. "Non-Mendelian inheritance of two cytoskeletal genes in the ciliate Chilodonella uncinata." Mol. Biol. Evol. 24: 2495–2503.

Tekle, Y. I., J. R. Grant, O. R. Anderson, J. C. Cole, T. Nerad, D. J. Patterson, and L. A. Katz. 2007. "A multigene analysis of Corallomyxa tenera sp. nov. suggests its membership in a clade that include Gromia, Haplosporidia and Foraminifera." Protist 158: 457–72.

Zufall, R. A., and L. A. Katz. 2007. "Micronuclear and macronuclear forms of β-tubulin genes in the ciliate Chilodonella uncinata reveal insights into genome processing and protein evolution." J. Eukaryot. Microbiol. 54: 275–82.

Parfrey, L. W., E. Barbero**, E. Lasser**, M. Dunthorn, D. Bhattacharya, D. J. Patterson, and L.A. Katz. 2006. "Evaluating Support for the Current Classification of Eukaryotic Diversity." PLoS Genet. 2: e220.

Katz, L. A., O. L. O. Snoeyenbos-West, and F. P. Doerder. 2006. "Patterns of protein evolution in Tetrahymena thermophila: Implications for estimates of effective population size." Mol. Biol. Evol. 23: 608–14.

Zufall, R. A., C. McGrath**, S. Muse, and L. A. Katz. 2006. "Genome architecture drives protein evolution in ciliates." Mol. Biol. Evol. 23: 1681–87.

Katz, L. A., G. B. McManus, O. L. O. Snoeyenbos-West, K. Pirog**, A. Griffin**, and W. Foissner. 2005. "Reframing the Microbial 'Everything is Everywhere' Debate: Evidence for high gene flow and diversity in ciliate morphospecies." Aquat. Microb. Ecol. 41: 55–65.

Zufall, R. A., T. Robinson**, and L.A. Katz. 2005. "Evolution of developmentally regulated genome rearrangements in eukaryotes." J. Exp. Zool. Part B. (Mol. Dev. Evol.) 304B: 448–455.

Katz, L. A., E. Lasek-Nesselquist**, J. Bornstein, and S. V. Muse. 2004. "Dramatic diversity of histone H4 sequences in ciliates." Mol. Biol. Evol. 21: 555–562.

McGrath, C.**, and L. A. Katz. 2004. "Genome diversity in microbial eukaryotes." Trends Ecol. Evol. 19: 32–38.

Snoeyenbos-West, O. L. O., A. Campbell**, J. Cole, D. W. Coats and L. A. Katz. 2004. "Molecular phylogeny of phyllopharyngean ciliates and their group I introns." J. Eukaryot. Microbiol. 51: 441–450.


Katz, L. A., and D. Bhattacharya, eds. 2006. Genome Evolution in Eukaryotic Microbes. Oxford University Press.

Book chapters

Katz, L.A., and D. Bhattacharya. 2006. Introduction in Genome Evolution in Eukaryotic Microbes, L.A. Katz and D. Bhattacharya, eds. Oxford University Press.

McGrath, C., R. Zufall and L. A. Katz. 2006. "Genome Evolution in Ciliates" in Genome Evolution in Eukaryotic Microbes, L. A. Katz and D. Bhattacharya, eds. Oxford University Press.

Katz, L.A. 2004. "Eukaryotic Diversity – a synoptic view." Invited chapter (pp. 57–65) in Microbial Diversity & Bioprospecting. A. T. Bull, ed. ASM Press, Washington D.C.

Other publications

Katz, L.A. 2007. "Genomes: Epigenomics and the future of genome sciences." Current Biology 16: R996–997.

Patterson, D. J., D. Bhattacharya, J. C. Cole, M. S. Dunthorn, J. M. Logsdon, L. A. Katz, and L. W. Parfrey. 2007. "Classifying protists." Microbiology Today Feb: 44–45.

Bhattacharya, D., and L. A. Katz. 2005. "Meeting report—Frontiers in genomics: Insights into protist evolutionary biology, University of Iowa, May 19–21, 2004. J. Euk. Microbiol. 52: 170–172.

**Smith College student author