Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Rokas, Antonis , Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics
Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair in Biological Sciences

Lab Url:

Phone Number: 615-936-3892


Rokas, Antonis's picture

Office Address   Mailing Address

465 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37235

20450 Biological Sciences
VU Station B, 35-1634
Nashville, TN 37235, USA

Research Specialty
Phylogenetics, Molecular Evolution, Molecular Foundations of Multicellular Transitions, Evolution of the Fungal Lifestyle

Research Description
The most exciting scientific questions are those at the crossroads of different disciplines. Genomics has revolutionized the study of biology and has reinforced the significance of Dobzhansky's famous quip, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." Research in the Rokas lab combines computational and experimental approaches to investigate:
(i) the factors influencing phylogenetic accuracy and their usefulness in obtaining more robust phylogenies,
(ii) the molecular origins of multicellularity in fungi and animals, and
(iii) the origin and evolution of key genetic pathways in fungi and their association with changes in genome structure.

Gibbons, JG, Rokas, A. The function and evolution of the Aspergillus genome. Trends Microbiol, 21(1), 14-22, 2013.

McGary, KL, Slot, JC, Rokas, A. Physical linkage of metabolic genes in fungi is an adaptation against the accumulation of toxic intermediate compounds. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 110(28), 11481-6, 2013.

Rinker, DC, Pitts, RJ, Zhou, X, Suh, E, Rokas, A, Zwiebel, LJ. Blood meal-induced changes to antennal transcriptome profiles reveal shifts in odor sensitivities in Anopheles gambiae. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 110(20), 8260-5, 2013.

Salichos, L, Rokas, A. Inferring ancient divergences requires genes with strong phylogenetic signals. Nature, 497(7449), 327-31, 2013.

Gibbons, JG, Beauvais, A, Beau, R, McGary, KL, Latge, JP, Rokas, A. Global transcriptome changes underlying colony growth in the opportunistic human pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. Eukaryot Cell, 11(1), 68-78, 2012.

Gibbons, JG, Salichos, L, Slot, JC, Rinker, DC, McGary, KL, King, JG, Klich, MA, Tabb, DL, McDonald, WH, Rokas, A. The evolutionary imprint of domestication on genome variation and function of the filamentous fungus Aspergillus oryzae. Curr Biol, 22(15), 1403-9, 2012.

Slot, JC, Rokas, A. Horizontal transfer of a large and highly toxic secondary metabolic gene cluster between fungi. Curr Biol, 21(2), 134-9, 2011.

Hittinger, CT, Goncalves, P, Sampaio, JP, Dover, J, Johnston, M, Rokas, A. Remarkably ancient balanced polymorphisms in a multi-locus gene network. Nature, 464(7285), 54-8, 2010.

Hittinger, CT, Johnston, M, Tossberg, JT, Rokas, A. Leveraging skewed transcript abundance by RNA-Seq to increase the genomic depth of the tree of life. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 107(4), 1476-81, 2010.

Slot, JC, Rokas, A. Multiple GAL pathway gene clusters evolved independently and by different mechanisms in fungi. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 107, 10136-41, 2010.

Gibbons, JG, Janson, EM, Hittinger, CT, Johnston, M, Abbot, P, Rokas, A. Benchmarking next-generation transcriptome sequencing for functional and evolutionary genomics. Mol Biol Evol, 26(12), 2731-44, 2009.

Rokas, A, Abbot, P. Harnessing genomics for evolutionary insights. Trends Ecol Evol, 24(4), 192-200, 2009.

Rokas, A. The origins of multicellularity and the early history of the genetic toolkit for animal development. Annu Rev Genet, 42, 235-51, 2008.

Prudhomme, B, Gompel, N, Rokas, A, Kassner, VA, Williams, TM, Yeh, SD, True, JR, Carroll, SB . Repeated morphological evolution through cis-regulatory changes in a pleiotropic gene. Nature, (440), 1050-1053, 2006.

Rokas, A, Carroll, SB. Bushes in the Tree of Life. PLoS Biology, 11(11), e352, 2006.

Rokas, A, Krueger, D, Carroll, SB. Animal evolution and the molecular signature of radiations compressed in time. Science, (310), 1933-1938, 2005.

Hittinger, CT, Rokas, A, Carroll, SB. Parallel inactivation of multiple GAL pathway genes and ecological diversification in yeasts. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, (101), 14144-14149, 2004.

Rokas, A*, Williams, BL*, King, N, Carroll, SB. Genome-scale approaches to resolving incongruence in molecular phylogenies. Nature, (425), 798-804, 2003.

Averof, M, Rokas, A, Wolfe, KH, Sharp, PM. Evidence for a high frequency of simultaneous double-nucleotide substitutions. Science, (287), 1283-1286, 2000.

Rokas, A, Holland, PWH. Rare genomic changes as a tool for phylogenetics. Trends Ecol. Evol., (15), 454-459, 2000.

Postdoctoral Position Available

Postdoctoral Position Details
We are always interested in recruiting talented undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. If you are interested in our research and considering joining our lab, please don''''t hesitate to email Antonis with your CV and a letter outlining your research interests and why you think you would be a good fit to our group. For more information on our research and on how to apply, please visit our lab website.

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