Welcome to the Evolution of Cells, Symbionts, and Organelles Lab website! We are located in the Department of Biological Sciences at Purdue University (IN, USA). One of the central questions that drive our research is ‘How does cellular complexity increase?’ Our research thus focuses on major transitions in cell evolution. Two of the immediate interests of the lab are (1) the origin of eukaryotes and their mitochondria, and (2) the origin and function of purple photosymbioses.

Some of the questions we will be tackling are:

  • What was the nature of the mitochondrial ancestor?
  • What was the genetic contribution of the mitochondrial ancestor to eukaryotes?
  • How did mitochondria affect the physiology and evolution of eukaryotes?
  • What are the mechanistic bases of purple photosymbioses?
  • How have purple photosymbioses evolved?

See our research here to learn more.


I am always looking for highly motivated students to join the ECSO Lab! If you are passionate about symbiosis and cell evolution, please do get in touch to discuss possibilities. If you are a student that belongs to an underrepresented or minority group, consider applying to the Graduate Diversity Visitation Program (GDVP) for a chance to visit Purdue and our lab with all expenses covered for four days. You can reach me at samunozg{at}purdue[dot]edu


Dec 12, 2023 The article “The energetic costs of cellular complexity in evolution” is out today in Trends in Microbiology! It explores the micro- and macroevolutionary costs of increases in cellular complexity. Follow this link for a 50-day free access to the article.
Dec 12, 2023 We welcome Research Assistants Penelope Vu, MSc and Konrad Schwartz, BSc to the ECSO Lab!
Oct 4, 2023 Together with the Friedman lab at UT Southwestern, we have released a new preprint that reports a new interactor of the crista-developing MICOS complex in fungi. Check it out here.
Sep 1, 2023 We welcome Dr. Dongseok Kim to the ECSO Lab! Dr. Kim recently obtained his PhD from the laboratory of Dr. Hwan Su Yoon at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea. Learn more about Dongseok here.
Aug 14, 2023 Dr. Muñoz-Gómez was featured in a piece in Live Science that discusses a recent study by Geiger et al. in Science Advances. Read here.

Selected publications

  1. The energetic costs of cellular complexity in evolution
    S.A. Muñoz-Gómez
    Trends in Microbiology, 2024
  2. Intracytoplasmic-membrane development in alphaproteobacteria involves the homolog of the mitochondrial crista-developing protein Mic60
    S.A. Muñoz-Gómez, L.R. Cadena, A.T. Gardiner, and 13 more authors
    Current Biology, 2023
  3. Purple photosymbioses
    S.A. Muñoz-Gómez, and S. Hess
    Current Biology, 2023
  4. Energetics and evolution of anaerobic microbial eukaryotes
    S.A. Muñoz-Gómez
    Nature Microbiology, 2023
  5. The role of mitochondrial energetics in the origin and diversification of eukaryotes
    P.E. Schavemaker, and S.A. Muñoz-Gómez
    Nature Ecology and Evolution, 2022
  6. Site-and-branch-heterogeneous analyses of an expanded dataset favors mitochondria as sister to known Alphaproteobacteria
    S.A. Muñoz-Gómez, E. Susko, K. Williamson, and 5 more authors
    Nature Ecology and Evolution, 2022
  7. A microbial eukaryote with a unique combination of purple bacteria and green algae as endosymbionts
    S.A. Muñoz-Gómez, M. Kreutz, and S. Hess
    Science Advances, 2021