Photo Etienne Danchin



31 December 2011

Senior scientist

GAME team coordinator<br /> Scientific referent of the bioinformatics platform.


After a Master of Science in Bioinformatics, Structural Biochemistry and Genomics (BBSG) obtained from the Aix-Marseille University (Marseille, France), I started my research career as a PhD student in the Evolutionary Biology & Modeling laboratory of Dr. Pierre Pontarotti (EBM), CNRS / Aix-Marseille Université. During my thesis, I have focused my research on evolutionarily conserved genomic regions across various bilaterian animals (including humans, drosophila and zebrafish). Identification of conserved regions has allowed conceptual reconstruction of the original region in the last common ancestor of these species. I defended my PhD thesis in 2004 and obtained a doctorate degree in Bioinformatics and Genomics.

I continued my research activity in the same lab (EBM) as an assistant professor at the Aix-Marseille University. During this period I have mainly researched genes widely conserved during evolution from plants to insects and nematodes but absent from vertebrate genomes (including the human genome). I have been able to identify a dozen of gene families whose absence in vertebrate genomes could be related to actual losses of capabilities such as synthesis of some amino-acids or carbohydrates.

In 2005, I joined the "Architecture et Fonction des Macromolécules Biologiques" laboratory (AFMB),  CNRS / Aix-Marseille University as a postdoc. During this postdoc, in the Glycogenomics team of Dr. B. Henrissat, I have been studying structural and functional classification of Carbohydrate-Active enZymes (or CAZymes). My main research interest here was to detect, classify and compare CAZyme repertoires in fungal genomes. At this occasion, I have been involved in a variety of genome annotation consortia, including with international genome sequencing centers like Genoscope, the Broad Institute or the Joint Genome Institute. One of the main findings of my postdoctoral research was that repertoires of secreted CAZyme seem to reflect the fungal species lifestyle. For instance, plant-pathogenic fungi tend to have similar arsenals of CAZymes for the degradation of carbohydrates that compose the plant cell wall.

In 2007, I have been recruited as an INRA research associate (junior scientist) in Institut Sophia Agrobiotech in Sophia-Antipolis (French Riviera, France).  As a member of the "Plant / Nematode Interaction" team, my research has been mainly focused on comparative genomics and evolution of plant parasitism in nematodes.

In 2015, after having obtained a Habilitation diploma on genome evolution and adaptation to plant parasitism from Université Côte d'Azur, I obtained the grade of INRA research director (senior scientist).

Since 2022, I am coordinator and responsible for the research team GAME: Genomics & Adaptive Molecular Evolution, within which I develop research on adaptive evolution in the genomes of various species whose biology is connected to plant health or to other models useful to understand these species.

Research Interests

  • Comparative and evolutionary genomics of plant pest and parasites.
  • Emergence and evolution of plant-parasitism.
  • Horizontal gene transfers
  • Parasitism genes in plant nematodes
  • Genomic plasticity and architecture in the absence of sexual reproduction
  • de novo gene birth

Publications and scientific production

My publications in peer-reviewed journals as well as my contributions to scientific meetings and conferences are listed in my personal website, available here.


Publication date : 13 September 2023