Institut für Molekulare Evolution

Welcome to the Institute of Molecular Evolution at Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf. Our main scientific interests are endosymbiosis, early evolution, the origin of life, cell evolution, genome evolution and compartmentalized energy metabolism with emphasis on chloroplasts, mitochondria, and hydrogenosomes.


Carbon-metal bonds: Rare and primordial in metabolism

Trends Biochem Sci (2019)

doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2019.04.010

Archaeal histone contributions to the origin of eukaryotes

Trends Microbiol (2019)

doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2019.04.002

Energy metabolism in anaerobic eukaryotes and Earth's late oxygenation

Free Radic Biol Med (2019)

doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2019.03.030

Welt am Sonntag (German for World on Sunday), a German Sunday newspaper, published an article about Bill Martin and his research on the origin of life.

Members of the Institute of Molecular Evolution and pupils from Düsseldorf are on Elba to analyze the effects of plastic contamination on the marine environment. The project is supported by the HHU initiative "Bürgeruniversität in der Lehre" and documentated in a blog.

Serpentinization: Connecting geochemistry, ancient metabolism and industrial hydrogenation

Life 8: 41 (2018)

doi: 10.3390/life8040041

The last universal common ancestor between ancient Earth chemistry and the onset of genetics

PLoS Genet 14: e1007518

doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007518

William Martin took part in the Roundtable Discussion "The Archaea-Eukaryote evolutionary pathway – Is the roadmap clear?" at the 17th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology in Leipzig, Germany.

The Roundtable Discussion was organized by Chuanlun Zhang (Southern University of Science and Technology, China), Ruixin Zhu (Tongji University, China) and Li Huang (Chinese Academy of Sciences, China).

An algal greening of land

Cell 174:256–258 (2018)

doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.06.034

The Chara genome: Secondary complexity and implications for plant terrestrialization

Cell 174:448–464 (2018)

doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.06.033

Press release by HHU (in German)

Il Bo Live from the Univeristy of Padova (Italy) interviewed Bill Martin about the first organism on Earth:

Com'era fatto il primo organismo mai vissuto sulla Terra?

(Text in Italian, Video in English)

The Archbishop of Berlin, Dr. Heiner Koch, held the laudatio to the laureate, Prof. William Martin, at the award ceremony of the Klüh Prize in the Hotel Adlon (Berlin). Dr. Koch's laudatio and Prof. Martin's acceptance speech are available on the website of the Archdiocese of Berlin (in German).

Rheinische Post, a major German regional daily newspaper, published an article about William Martin and the Klüh Prize 2018 awarded to him.

Westdeutsche Zeitung, one of the largest German regional daily newspaper in North Rhine-Westphalia, published an article about William Martin and the Klüh Prize 2018 awarded to him.

William Martin recieves the 2018 Award of the Klüh Foundation for the Promotion of Innovation in Science and Research

Embryophyte stress signaling evolved in the algal progenitors of land plants

Proc Natl Acad Sci USA (2018)

doi: 10.1073/pnas.1719230115

10.04.2018 Graduation | Cessa Rauch

Cessa Rauch successfully finished her doctorate with the thesis entitled

"Plastid longevity in sacoglossan sea slugs".

Eukaryote lateral gene transfer is Lamarckian

Nat Ecol Evol (2018)

doi: 10.1038/s41559-018-0521-7

Native metals, electron bifurcation, and CO2 reduction in early biochemical evolution

Curr Opin Microbiol 43: 77–83 (2018)

doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2017.12.010

William Martin talks about:

Ursprünge des Lebens. Wo lebten die ersten Zellen, und wovon?

Thursday, November 29, 2017, 17:00 h
Nordrhein-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften und Künste, Palmenstraße 16, 40217 Düsseldorf

William Martin reported on Ö1, an austrian radio station operated by Austria's public broadcaster ORF, in the program "Dimensionen" about the origin of life:

Wie das Leben auf der Erde begonnen hat

A physiological perspective on the origin and evolution of photosynthesis

FEMS Microbiol Rev (2017)

doi: 10.1093/femsre/fux056

William Martin recieves the 2017 Spiridion Brusina Medal of the Croatian Society of Natural Sciences.

Website in Croatian language

Symbiogenesis, gradualism, and mitochondrial energy in eukaryote origin

Period Biol 119: 141–158 (2017)

doi: 10.18054/pb.v119i3.5694

Too much eukaryote LGT

Bioessays (2017)

doi: 10.1002/bies.201700115

12.10.2017 TV | Arte Xenius

Arte, a public German-French TV network, broadcasted a video about William Martin's findings about the role of iron at the origin of life in the science program Xenius:

"Eisen: Warum wir es zum Überleben brauchen"

On being the right size as an animal with plastids

Front. Plant Sci. 8:1402 (2017)

doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.01402

The physiology of phagocytosis in the context of mitochondrial origin

Microbiol. Mol. Biol. Rev. 81 (2017)

doi: 10.1128/MMBR.00008-17

The VolkswagenStiftung will support Prof. Dr. William F. Martin in the next five years under the initiative "Life – A fresh scientific approach to the basic principles of life".

This project is in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Martin Lercher (HHU Düsseldorf) and Prof. Dr. Eörs Sathmáry (Parmenides Institute Munich).

Project title: "A unified model of recombination in life"

William Martin reported on WDR 5, a radio channel produced by the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), a public broadcasting company in Germany, in the program "Zeitzeichen" about Stanley Miller on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Miller's death. 

Going back in genes

The Biologist 64:2023 (2017)

30.03.2017 News | NASA Blog

Astrobiology at NASA posted an article about LUCA and William Martin's work:

Looking for LUCA, the Last Universal Common Ancestor


Google Scholar lists public profiles for Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf.

10.03.2017 Graduation | Sriram Garg

Sriram Garg successfully finished his doctorate with the thesis entitled

"Mitochondria and Major Transitions at the Origin of Eukaryotes".

Energy in ancient metabolism

Cell 168:953955 (2017)

doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.02.032

Physiology, phylogeny, early evolution, and GAPDH

Protoplasma 254:1823–1834 (2017)

doi: 10.1007/s00709-017-1095-y

Late mitochondrial origin is an artifact

Genome Biol. Evol. 9:373–379 (2017)

doi: 10.1093/gbe/evx027

10.02.2017 Prize | Chuan Ku

Chuan Ku was awarded for the Best Doctoral Dissertation 2016 of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf.

William Martin talks about:

Einsam und allein auf einem jungen Planeten. Der letzte gemeinsame Vorfahr allen Lebens

Thursday, February 2, 2017, 19:00 h
Haus der Universität, Schadowplatz 14, 40212 Düsseldorf

Rheinische Post, a major German regional daily newspaper, published an article about Bill Martin and his research on the origin of life:

Wie das Leben auf die Welt kam

01.02.2017 Graduation | Harald Preisner

Harald Preisner successfully finished his doctorate with the thesis entitled

"Cytoskelett-Analyse parabasalischer Parasiten: Die Präsenz potentieller Intermediärfilament Proteine in Protisten".

Physiology, anaerobes, and the origin of mitosing cells 50 years on

J. Theor. Biol. 434: 2–10 (2017)

doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2017.01.004

Find more news in the archive:

2016   2015


Prof. Dr. William F. Martin

Molekulare Evolution
Universitätsstraße 1
Gebäude: 26.13
Etage/Raum: 01.34
Tel.: +49 211 81-13011


Renate Bode

Gebäude: 26.13
Etage/Raum: 01.36
Tel.: +49 211 81-14932
Verantwortlich für den Inhalt: E-Mail sendenProf. Dr. William F. Martin