Kenneth H. Wolfe

Ken Wolfe
Ken Wolfe at the Royal Society admissions day in London, July 2017
Born Kenneth Henry Wolfe
Alma mater University of Dublin (BA, PhD)
Awards EMBO Member (2010)[1]
Scientific career
Fields Comparative genomics
Yeast genetics
Institutions University College Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin
Indiana University Bloomington[3]
Thesis Rates of nucleotide substitution in higher plants and mammals (1990)
Doctoral advisor Paul M. Sharp[4][5][6]
Other academic advisors Jeffrey D. Palmer[7]
Doctoral students

Kenneth Henry Wolfe FRS MRIA[11][12] is Professor of Genomic Evolution at University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland.[13][11][14]


Wolfe was educated at Trinity College, Dublin where he was awarded Bachelor of Arts degree in Genetics in 1986[3] followed by a PhD in 1990[6] for research investigating synonymous substitution in vascular plants and mammals supervised by Paul M. Sharp.[4][5][6][15]

Research and career

Wolfe's research focuses on comparative genomics, yeast genetics and bioinformatics.[2][16][17] Work in his laboratory investigates the evolution of eukaryotic genomes and chromosome organisation.[12] He is best known for his discovery that the genome of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae underwent complete genome duplication about 100 million years ago,[18] an event that is now known to be the result of hybridization between two divergent species.[12] This finding reshaped our understanding both of yeast biology, and of mechanisms of genome evolution in eukaryotes.[12] His subsequent discoveries of similar ancient genome duplications (paleopolyploidy)[19] during human evolution, and in almost all families of flowering plants, led to the realisation that whole-genome duplication is widespread.[12] His group also studies the origin and evolution of mating systems in yeasts, and the process of mating-type switching in which one cell type can change into another by moving or replacing a section of chromosome.[12]

Wolfe was a postdoctoral researcher with Jeffrey D. Palmer[7] at Indiana University Bloomington before returning to Ireland in 1992 to establish his research group in the Genetics Department of Trinity College Dublin,[20][3] where he has remained for over 20 years. As of 2017 his most highly cited peer reviewed papers[2][14][16] have been published in leading scientific journals including Nature,[18][21] PNAS,[22] The Plant Cell,[19][23] Genome Research[24] and Nature Reviews Genetics.[7]

Former doctoral students from the Wolfe lab include Mario A. Fares,[4] Aoife McLysaght,[4][8][9] Estelle Proux-Wéra[4] and Cathal Seoighe.[5][10]

Awards and honours

Wolfe was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2017,[12] a member of the Royal Irish Academy (MRIA) in 2000[11] and a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in 2010.[1] In 2011 he served as president of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution ([25]


  1. 1 2 Anon (2010). "EMBO member: Kenneth H. Wolfe". Heidelberg: European Molecular Biology Organization. Archived from the original on 2017-01-31.
  2. 1 2 3 Kenneth H. Wolfe publications indexed by Google Scholar
  3. 1 2 3 Ken Wolfe's Entry at ORCID
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Anon (2017). "Kenneth H. Wolfe academic geneaology". Archived from the original on 2017-07-11.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Kenneth H. Wolfe at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  6. 1 2 3 Wolfe, Kenneth H. (1990). Rates of nucleotide substitution in higher plants and mammals (PhD thesis). Trinity College, Dublin. OCLC 842511087. Copac 11666046.
  7. 1 2 3 Wolfe, Kenneth H. (2001). "Yesterday's polyploids and the mystery of diploidization". Nature Reviews Genetics. 2 (5): 333–341. doi:10.1038/35072009. ISSN 1471-0056. PMID 11331899. (subscription required)
  8. 1 2 McLysaght, Aoife (2002). Evolution of vertebrate genome organisation (PDF) (PhD thesis). Trinity College, Dublin. OCLC 842498402. Copac 11660313. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-11-06.
  9. 1 2 Wolfe, Ken (2017). "Wolfe lab alumni". Archived from the original on 2017-07-11.
  10. 1 2 Seoighe, Cathal (2000). Gene order evolution and genomic analysis of the model eukaryote, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and other yeast species (PhD thesis). Trinity College, Dublin. OCLC 842501444. Copac 11661350.
  11. 1 2 3 Anon (2000). "Kenneth H. Wolfe FTCD". Dublin: Royal Irish Academy.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Anon (2017). "Professor Kenneth Wolfe FRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2017-05-05. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the website where:
    “All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.” --"Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on 2016-11-11. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  13. UCD Professor Kenneth Wolfe elected Fellow of the Royal Society on YouTube, University College Dublin
  14. 1 2 Kenneth H. Wolfe publications from Europe PubMed Central
  15. Sharp, Paul M.; Cowe, Elizabeth; Higgins, Desmond G.; Shields, Denis C.; Wolfe, Kenneth H.; Wright, Frank (1988). "Codon usage patterns in Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Drosophila melanogaster and Homo sapiens; a review of the considerable within-species diversity". Nucleic Acids Research. 16 (17): 8207–8211. doi:10.1093/nar/16.17.8207. ISSN 0305-1048. PMC 338553. PMID 3138659.
  16. 1 2 Kenneth H. Wolfe publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database, a service provided by Elsevier. (subscription required)
  17. Sherlock, Gavin; Schröder, Markus S.; Martinez de San Vicente, Kontxi; Prandini, Tâmara H. R.; Hammel, Stephen; Higgins, Desmond G.; Bagagli, Eduardo; Wolfe, Kenneth H.; Butler, Geraldine (2016). "Multiple Origins of the Pathogenic Yeast Candida orthopsilosis by Separate Hybridizations between Two Parental Species". PLOS Genetics. 12 (11): e1006404. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1006404. ISSN 1553-7404. PMC 5091853. PMID 27806045.
  18. 1 2 Wolfe, Kenneth H.; Shields, Denis C. (1997). "Molecular evidence for an ancient duplication of the entire yeast genome". Nature. 387 (6634): 708–713. doi:10.1038/42711. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 9192896. (subscription required)
  19. 1 2 Blanc, Guillaume; Wolfe, Kenneth H. (2004). "Widespread Paleopolyploidy in Model Plant Species Inferred from Age Distributions of Duplicate Genes". The Plant Cell. 16 (7): 1667–1678. doi:10.1105/tpc.021345. ISSN 1040-4651. PMC 514152. PMID 15208399.
  20. "Trinity College Dublin Genetics Department".
  21. Lander, E. S.; Linton, M.; Birren, B.; Nusbaum, C.; Zody, C.; Baldwin, J.; Devon, K.; Dewar, K.; Doyle, M.; Fitzhugh, W.; Funke, R.; Gage, D.; Harris, K.; Heaford, A.; Howland, J.; Kann, L.; Lehoczky, J.; Levine, R.; McEwan, P.; McKernan, K.; Meldrim, J.; Mesirov, J. P.; Miranda, C.; Morris, W.; Naylor, J.; Raymond, C.; Rosetti, M.; Santos, R.; Sheridan, A.; et al. (2001). "Initial sequencing and analysis of the human genome". Nature. 409 (6822): 860–921. Bibcode:2001Natur.409..860L. doi:10.1038/35057062. hdl:2027.42/62798. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 11237011.
  22. Wolfe, K. H.; Li, W. H.; Sharp, P. M. (1987). "Rates of nucleotide substitution vary greatly among plant mitochondrial, chloroplast, and nuclear DNAs". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 84 (24): 9054–9058. doi:10.1073/pnas.84.24.9054. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 299690. PMID 3480529.
  23. Blanc, Guillaume; Wolfe, Kenneth H. (2004). "Functional Divergence of Duplicated Genes Formed by Polyploidy during Arabidopsis Evolution". The Plant Cell. 16 (7): 1679–1691. doi:10.1105/tpc.021410. ISSN 1040-4651. PMC 514153. PMID 15208398.
  24. Blanc, G.; Hokamp, Karsten; Wolfe, Kenneth H. (2003). "A Recent Polyploidy Superimposed on Older Large-Scale Duplications in the Arabidopsis Genome". Genome Research. 13 (2): 137–144. doi:10.1101/gr.751803. ISSN 1088-9051. PMC 420368. PMID 12566392.
  25. Anon (2017). "SMBE Council members".
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