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Thursday, 22 May 2014 12:45



The EVOLUNET project



The EVOLUNET project is supported by the European Research Council under the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013 Grant Agreement # 615274, category LS8).



  • To introduce and develop sequence similarity networks as a promising complement to the phylogenetic framework to study evolutionary biology.



The comparison of molecular sequences from organisms, environmental samples and mobile genetic elements is fundamental in evolutionary biology to study genes, genomes and species evolution. Although phylogenetic methods play a major role in these analyses, through the inference of phylogenetic trees or networks based on families of homologous sequences, many data remained underexplored as the number of molecular sequences, especially from microbial genomes and environmental projects, grows exponentially, with typical environmental samples containing thousands of species represented by millions of sequences. In order to further enhance the evolutionary comparison of molecular sequences, we will develop a promising complementary approach, the use of large complex similarity networks (typically a few million nodes and tens of millions of edges), adapted to evolutionary biology questions. Such networks, inspired by the studies on social and regulatory networks, allow for fast inclusive comparative analyses of both (highly) divergent and conserved sequences, fully or partly similar.

We will develop similarity networks to:

  • identify and study chimeric genes and genomes,

  • detect and analyze the common ‘genetic goods’ shared between gene families and within microbial communities,
  • test whether genetic diversity in environmental sequences is significantly larger, both quantitatively and qualitatively, than genetic diversity in some important gene families of cultured organisms (and their mobile genetic elements),

  • improve the statistical framework to compare similarity networks.


We expect that our findings will provide an additional comparative framework for evolutionary studies, new methods of detection of environmental/genomic sequences of medical and biological interest, and a novel description of the structure of genetic diversity on Earth, unraveling the main partnerships and barriers to the exchange of sequences of DNA between genes, genomes, species and environments.









This summer school will be held in Roscoff, France, between June 24th 2018 (date of arrival) and June 30th (date of departure).

This school is designed in priority for biologists and bio-informaticians (completing a PhD degree or currently post-doctoral fellows, as well as researchers), who wish to learn the bases of network analyses.

The main notions (regarding various types of networks, the relevance of their analyses, and some bases in graph theory) will be introduced by short theoretical classes, followed by practical case-studies, introducing the basics in programming required to run such network analyses as well as to use the existing software/tools. Our goal is that, by the end of this summer school, all applicants will be qualified to perform network analyses of their own datasets.

More precisely, we will focus on the following concepts and methods:

- Introgressive evolution and large-scale diversity studies.

- Construction and analysis of sequence similarity networks (construction and sorting of connected components, definition of gene families, search for composite genes, implementation of centrality measures)

- Construction and analysis of genome networks (construction of weighted genome networks, implementation of their diameter, shortest paths, analyses of labeled nodes, etc.)

- Construction and analysis of gene-genome bipartite graphs (detection of connected components, and their articulation points, and twins)

In addition, 9 conferences on networks and evolution will be delivered by leading scientists during this school. Expected speakers will be announced later.

This summer school is funded by ERC grant (FP7/2007-2013 Grant Agreement # 615274). Hence, registration is free, housing and food (breakfast, lunch) are also fully covered. Applicants will only need to fund their travel to Roscoff and their evening dinners.

10 places only are available, with a mandatory requirement: applicants must show basic computer skills (i.e. to be familiar with Linux environment and with at least one programming language, preferably Python).

Applications are to be submitted asap, and no later than January 15th 2018, by email to :

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and contain a brief letter describing why this class will be of significant interest for the applicant and his/her future studies.

Applicants will be selected based on their motivation, and their resume, including the names of two scientific referees for PhD and postdoctoral fellows.


04/09/17 to 27/12/17: We welcome Dr. Diego Javier Zea (from the Structural Bioinformatics Units of the Leloir Institute Foundation, Argentina), with whom we will develop networks to study the evolution of protein architectures.


03/05/2017: The Science Breaker highlights our research: "Symbiogenesis: how algae and bacteria shaped new genes together" (https://doi.org/10.25250/thescbr.brk046)


03/05/2017: Mr. Eduard Ocaña (PhD student in the Ruiz-Trillo lab) in training for 3 months in the EVOLUNET team to learn network methods.


15/04/2017: Dr. Guillaume Bernard (post-doctoral fellow) joined the EVOLUNET team. Dr. Guillaume Bernard will develop a statistical framework for network comparisons.

01/10/2016: Dr. Andrew Watson (post-doctoral fellow) and Mr. Romain Lannès (PhD student) joined the EVOLUNET team. Dr. Watson will develop network methods to search for genetic public goods. Mr. Lannes will develop methods to detect divergent environmental genes and microbes.


01/07/2016-31/06/2017: EVOLUNET welcomes Pr. François-Joseph Lapointe (U. Montréal, Canada) for a one year sabbatical in Paris.



18/01/2016: EVOLUNET welcomes its first Master 2 student: Mr. Adrien Danzon, and a visiting scientist: Mr. Alexander Jaffe (visiting scientist). Both investigate environmental genetic diversity using networks.


05/01/2016-09/01/2016: EVOLUNET is honored to welcome Pr. Luay Nakhleh to develop collaborations on sequence similarity networks. To know more about Pr. Nahkleh, check: https://www.cs.rice.edu/~nakhleh/




15/07/2015: EVOLUNET welcomes Mr. Sukithar Kochappi Rajan to start studies of environmental genetic diversity for 4 months.



01/01/2015: Dr. Mattis List, eminent historical linguist, joined the lab to develop network methods, applied to language evolution.

24/11/2014: Dr. Shijulal Nelson-Sathi and Pr. William Martin visit the EVOLUNET team to consider collaborations on reticulate evolution.

01/11/2014: A new post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Eduardo Corel, joins the team EVOLUNET to work on gene and genome networks.


Find detailed resume of Dr. Eduardo Corel here.



01/07/2014-06/07/2014: The lab welcomes Pr. François-Joseph Lapointe to develop collaborations on sequence similarity networks. To know more about FJL's multiple talents, check this.






01/06/2014: A post-doctoral position (starting in November 2014) is available. Applications are welcome.

01/06/2014: EVOLUNET welcomes its first PhD student: Mr. Jananan Pathmanathan


Find detailed resume of Mr. Jananan Pathmanathan here


01/06/2014: EVOLUNET officially begins.




09/12/2016: Pr. Eugene Koonin (Senior Investigator, NCBI, USA) gave a talk on "Evolution of the virus world and antivirus defense: a tangled web"


Find more about the work by Pr. Koonin here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/research/groups/koonin/


29/04/2016: Pr. Martin Embley (Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences, Newcastle University, England) gave a talk on "The tangled origin of eukaryotes"


Find more about the work by Pr. Embley here: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/camb/staff/profile/martinembley.html#research


08/04/2015: Pr. Christopher Lane (U. Rhodes Island, USA) gave a talk on: "Falling in and out of parasitism: What can genomic data tell us about life history transitions?"

Find more about the work by Pr. Lane here: http://cels.uri.edu/bio/lanelab/


18/03/2015: Pr. James McInerney (U. Maynooth, Ireland) gave a talk on: "Eukaryotic origins"

Find more about the work by Pr. Mcinerney here: http://jamesmcinerney.ie/



24/11/2014: Pr. William Martin (U. Duesseldorf, Germany) gave a public talk on:"Major gene fluxes in early microbial evolution"

Find more about the work by Pr. Martin here: http://www.molevol.de/lab/martin.html


07/10/2014: Dr. Rafal Mostowy (Imperial College, UK) gave a public talk on: "The role of horizontal DNA exchange in the evolution of pneumococcal capsules".

Find more about the work by Dr. Mostowy here: http://rmostowy.wordpress.com/


16/06/2014: Pr. Debashish Bhattacharya (Rutgers University, USA) gave a public talk on : "Exploring the evolution of microbial eukaryotes using single cell genomics".

A challenge for network studies: exploiting data from single cell genomics to better understand protist ecology and evolution.

Find more exciting scientific contributions by Pr. Debashish Bhattacharya here: http://dblab.rutgers.edu/home/index.php



15. Richard G Dorrell, Gillian Gile, Giselle McCallum, Raphaël Méheust, Eric P Bapteste,Christen M Klinger, Loraine Brillet-Guéguen, Katalina D Freeman, Daniel J Richter, Chris Bowler (2017): Chimeric origins of ochrophytes and haptophytes revealed through an ancient plastid proteome. eLife;10.7554/eLife.23717


14. List, J.-M., P. Lopez, and E. Bapteste (2016): Using sequence similarity networks to identify partial cognates in multilingual wordlists. In: Proceedings of the Association of Computational Linguistics 2016 (Volume 2: Short Papers). Association of Computational Linguistics 599-605. doi: dx.doi.org/10.18653/v1/p16-2097


13. Lord E, Le Cam M, Bapteste É, Méheust R, Makarenkov V, Lapointe FJ. BRIDES: A New Fast Algorithm and Software for Characterizing Evolving Similarity Networks Using Breakthroughs, Roadblocks, Impasses, Detours, Equals and Shortcuts. PLoS One. 2016 Aug 31;11(8):e0161474.




12. List JM, Pathmanathan JS, Lopez P, Bapteste E. Unity and disunity in evolutionary sciences: process-based analogies open common research avenues for biology and linguistics. Biol Direct. 2016 Aug 20;11:39. doi: 10.1186/s13062-016-0145-2.


11. Jaffe AL, Corel E, Sylvestre Pathmanathan J, Lopez P, Bapteste E. Bipartite graph analyses reveal interdomain LGT involving ultrasmall prokaryotes and their divergent, membrane-related proteins. Environ Microbiol. 2016 Aug 3. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.13477. [Epub ahead of print]


10. Méheust R, Zelzion E, Bhattacharya D, Lopez P, Bapteste E. Protein networks identify novel symbiogenetic genes resulting from plastid endosymbiosis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Mar 29;113(13):3579-84. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1517551113. Epub 2016 Mar 14.



9. Corel E, Lopez P, Méheust R, Bapteste E. (2016) Network-Thinking: Graphs to Analyze Microbial Complexity and Evolution. Trends Microbiol. Jan 13. pii: S0966-842X(15)00279-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2015.12.003. [Epub ahead of print]



8. Lopez P, Halary S, Bapteste E. (2015) Highly divergent ancient gene families in metagenomic samples are compatible with additional divisions of life. Biology Direct. Oct 26; 10:64


7. Bapteste E. (2015) Conflits Intérieurs. Fable Scientifique, Collection « Essais », Les éditions Matériologiques (268 pages).



6. Forster D, Bittner L, Karkar S, Dunthorn M, Romac S, Audic S, Lopez P, Stoeck T, Bapteste E. (2015) Testing ecological theories with sequence similarity networks: marine ciliates exhibit similar geographic dispersal patterns as multicellular organisms. BMC Biol. Feb 24;13(1):16.



5. Méheust R, Lopez P and Bapteste E. (2015) Metabolic bacterial genes and the construction of high-level composite lineages of life. Trends Ecol Evol. Jan 16. pii: S0169-5347(15)00003-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2015.01.001. [Epub ahead of print]



4. Boon E, Halary S, Bapteste E* and Hijri M*. (2015) Studying Genome Heterogeneity within the Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungal Cytoplasm. Genome Biol Evol. Jan 7. pii: evv002. [Epub ahead of print (* contributed equally to this work)


3. Bapteste E. (2014) Pluralisme et évolution réticulée en microbiologie évolutive in PRÉCIS DE PHILOSOPHIE DE LA BIOLOGIE, sous la direction de F. Merlin et T. Hoquet, Collection « Philosophie des sciences » dirigée par Thierry Martin, Vuibert (321 pages).


Network by Cheng et al.


2. Cheng S., Karkar S., Bapteste E., Yee N., Falkowski P. and Bhattacharya D. Sequence similarity network reveals the imprints of major diversification events in the evolution of microbial life. Front. Ecol. Evol. 2014. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2014.00072

1. Jachiet P, Colson P, Lopez P, Bapteste E. Extensive gene remodeling in the viral world : new evidence for non-gradual evolution in the mobilome network. Genome Biol Evol. 2014;6(9):2195-205



Coming soon ;)



Coming later ;)


We plan to teach and share our methods on sequence similarity networks during two one-week European classes, each open to 10 motivated European master and PhD students in Station Biologique de Roscoff (France).

First class is expected in May/June or July 2016.

If interested, apply to: eric.bapteste[at]snv.jussieu.fr



Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 October 2017 13:29