Sogin Lab

Mitch Sogin
Distinguished Senior Scientist
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Sogin CV 2017


Mitchell L. Sogin combines his training in molecular evolution and microbiology to investigate the diversity and evolution of single-cell organisms. Sogin’s pioneering use of molecular phylogeny produced the reference framework for understanding the evolution of microbial eukaryotes. He documented the earliest diverging eukaryotic lineages, provided the first evidence of a specific link between animals and fungi to the exclusion of all other eukaryotes, discovered a novel assemblage of heterotrophic and photosynthetic eukaryotes (the Stramenopiles), and demonstrated that the AIDS pathogen Pneumocystis shares a recent common evolutionary history with fungi instead of with parasitic protozoa that cause malaria. In addition to genome sequencing of parasitic genomes, Dr. Sogin’s other contributions include description of the first in vitro ribosomal RNA processing system; the first evidence that self-splicing group I introns undergo lateral transfer between eukaryotic rRNA genes; demonstration that rRNAs in the parasite Plasmodium falciparum are differentially regulated depending upon life cycle stage; the first use of PCR to amplify and sequence ribosomal RNA genes; and the first use of next generation DNA sequencing to characterize complex microbial communities which led to discovery of the rare biosphere. The rare biosphere is only accessible through ultra deep sequencing efforts and it posits that most microbial diversity is represented by low-abundance taxa that rarely occur in nature. As part of the Census of Marine Life, Sogin formed and led the International Census of Marine Microbes and with Kai-Uwe Hinrichs has organized and led the Deep Life Community of the Deep Carbon Observatory. Sogin has contributed to development of analytical strategies for determining the taxonomic source of marker gene surveys and with David Mark Welch of the JBPC has established a web site Visualization of Microbial Population Structures (VAMPS) –, which offers tools for comparing microbial community population structures. The general next generation sequencing strategy developed in Sogin’s laboratory now dominates the field of molecular microbial ecology including efforts underway within the Human Microbiome Project (HMP). Dr. Sogin’s group currently collaborates with Eugene Chang from the University of Chicago on studies of human microbiome dynamics in pouchitis patients, a model for Ulcerative Colitis.

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