Parasitic organisms have independently evolved in every major lineage of life on Earth, but despite both the medical, economic and agricultural impacts of parasites, very little is known about the process by which a species adopts a parasitic life style. Although researchers have characterized many of the cellular and genomic consequences of anciently derived parasites, such as Phytophthora (Irish potato blight) and Plasmodium (the causative agent of malaria), changes that occur in the initial stages of this evolutionary trajectory remain a mystery. The primary barrier to understanding early parasite evolution has been the difficulty in finding parasites with closely related free-living lineages with which to make comparisons. The Lane Lab focuses on genome evolution and reduction in parasites. We are currently exploring two systems (see below) to better understand the effect that becoming a parasite has on the parasite’s genomes.