Olga Zhaxybayeva

Academic Appointments
  • Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

  • Adjunct Associate Professor of Computer Science

  • Simons Foundation Investigator in Mathematical Modeling of Living Systems

My research interests are to understand how microbes change over time. Recent advances in DNA sequencing technologies brought us an avalanche of data: thousands of genomes and terabases of environmental DNA (metagenomes). I mine these data sets to assess the impact of horizontal gene transfer on microbial populations, find new ways to characterize microbial communities, and track down genomic signatures of microbial adaptations.


333 Life Sciences Center
HB 6044


  • B.S. in Applied Mathematics, Kazakh State University
  • Ph.D. in Genetics, University of Connecticut
  • Postdoctroal Training in Microbial Evolution, Dalhousie University
  • Certificate in Computer Graphics, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design

Selected Publications

  • Roman Kogay, Yuri I Wolf, Eugene V Koonin, and Olga Zhaxybayeva (2020): "Selection for Reducing Energy Cost of Protein Production Drives the GC Content and Amino Acid Composition Bias in Gene Transfer Agents", mBio, 11:e01206-20.

  • Chase WR, Zhaxybayeva O, Rocha J, Cosgrove DJ, Shapiro LR. (2020) "Global cellulose biomass, horizontal gene transfers and domain fusions drive microbial expansin evolution." New Phytol., 226:921-938.

  • Kogay R, Neely TB, Birnbaum DP, Hankel CR, Shakya M, Zhaxybayeva O. (2019): "Machine-learning classification suggests that many alphaproteobacterial prophages may instead be gene transfer agents", Genome Biol Evol., evz206.

  • Bauer KM, Dicovitsky R, Pellegrini M, Zhaxybayeva O, Ragusa MJ. (2019): "The structure of a highly-conserved picocyanobacterial protein reveals a Tudor domain with an RNA-binding function", J Biol Chem., 294:14333-14344.

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