Man holding an oyster on a boat in the Solent

Biodiversity and evolution research

Explore our work in biodiversity and evolution, 1 of the 6 areas of expertise in our Biological Sciences research

Our research in Biodiversity and Evolution aims to expand our knowledge of the diverse organisms that exist across the Tree of Life – from microbes to whales. There are still more species unknown to science than those that have already been described. Our research deals with identifying and describing new species as they're discovered.

We search for new biotechnological potential in the genome of lesser-studied organisms, and through our explorations of the diversity of organism function and ecology, help create a basis for assessing the phase of rapid extinction which human beings are causing and struggling to prevent.

We also aim to inspire the public and demonstrate the value of scientific curiosity, by providing examples of the diversity of life and the unexpected capabilities of organisms.

Our research is also regularly featured in publications, such as Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, Nature Communications and Current Opinion in Chemical Biology.

Our research focuses on the following topics

  • Taxonomy and systematics – identifying and naming organisms, and determining their evolutionary relationship to other organisms
  • Functional morphology – analysing and comparing how organisms function
  • Genetics – the diversity of genes and their evolution
  • Autecology – the interaction of an organism with its environment
  • Synecology – the interactions of populations of organisms within an environment

Facilities and research methods

We use field and laboratory-based techniques to capture the diversity of life, including traditional survey and microscopy methods: confocal, fluorescence, scanning electron (SEM), transmission electron (TEM), atomic force (AFM) and micro computed tomography (micro CT).

Collaborations and funding

We regularly collaborate on research with academic partners around the world, plus governmental and non-governmental agencies and commercial partners. We have worked on projects with the Natural History Museum, Diamond Light Source, the British Antarctic Survey, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, USA (NREL), the Forestry Commission, and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

We've received research funding from major funders such as the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), National Science Foundation, USA, the Research Council of Norway, the European Union and the Leverhulme Trust.

Recent publication highlights


Discover our areas of expertise

Biodiversity and evolution is 1 of our 6 areas of expertise in our Biological Sciences research area. Explore the others below.

Epigenetics and developmental biology

We explore new ways to treat genetic disorders, identifying novel targets for drugs and searching for advances in treatment that could impact the lives of millions.

Double helix close-up of DNA helix
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Ecotoxicology and Environmental Monitoring

We're examining how humans impact ecosystems, and developing new ways to assess and counteract our impact on the environment.

Langstone harbour with tide in
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Marine Sciences

Through our research in marine science, we're working to improve the marine environment for future generations, and to make marine activities more sustainable.

School of fish swimming in deep ocean
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Environmental microbiology and biotechnology

We're searching for new antibiotics and other important enzymes and molecules – and developing the new technology needed to harness microbes for human benefit.

Fungal cultures in a petri dish in microbiology lab
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Molecular Biophysics

We're exploring the composition, function & behaviour of biomolecules so they can have societally, industrially and medically useful functions. Explore our molecular biophysics research.

Enzyme structure, courtesy of Centre for Enzyme Innovation, Portsmouth
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Research groups

Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Sciences

We're exploring disciplinary boundaries to discover, understand and develop knowledge for the benefit of the environment and humankind.

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Biodiversity and Evolution Research Group

We explore the diversity of life from the molecular level to ecosystems. Our theoretical insights underpin practical measures to protect biodiversity. Find out more.

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Interested in a PhD in Biological Sciences?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Biological Sciences postgraduate research degrees page.