Courtney Stairs, PhD
Prinicpal investigator


Associate Senior University Lecturer/Biträdande universitetslektor Lund University, Sweden
Molecular cell biology unit in the Biology Department.


Science for Life Lab Pushing Frontiers Researcher (Sweden; 2018-2020)
Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Uppsala University

EMBO & NSERC, Post-doctoral Fellow (Sweden; 2016-2018)
Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Uppsala University

PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Canada; 2009-2015)
Dalhousie University


Lund University – since 2021

Genetik och evolution (BSc) — course leader in 2022-
Microbiology (MSc) — Archaea & Eukaryogenesis module
DNA Sequencing Informatics I (MSc)– Gene annotation module
Python Programming and Bioinformatics (PhD) — course leader


  • European Research Council Starting Grant TANGO2 (2023-2028)
  • Erik Philip-Sörensens research grant (2021/2022)
  • Carl Tesdorpf Stiftelsen infrastructure grant (2021)
  • Carl Tryggers Stiftelsen research grant (2021-2023)
  • New Frontiers in Research Fund -Exploration grant; CoPI with Dr. Ryan Gawryluk (2021-2023)
  • Crafoord Stiftelsen research grant (2021-2023)
  • Vetendskapsrådet starting grant (2021-2025)
  • Science for Life Pushing Frontiers Fellow (2018-2020)
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Post-doctoral fellow (2017-2018)
  • European Molecular Biology Organization long-term fellow (2016-2018)
  • NSERC CGS-M, CGS-D Scholar (2009-2014)
  • Killam Trusts Level 1 and Level 2 Scholar (2009-2013)


Peer-reviewed journal articles 34
First or senior author 13
Book chapters 2
Citations 1966
h-index 19

For an up-to-date publication list, please my Google Scholar and ORCID profiles.



(34) A Mitosome With Distinct Metabolism in the Uncultured Protist Parasite Paramikrocytos canceri (Rhizaria, Ascetosporea).
Brännström IO+, Stairs CW+, Aguilera-Campos, KI, Ettema TJG, Keeling, PJ, Bass D and Burki F.  

Genome Biology and Evolution Accepted
+Contributed equally

(33) Eukaryotic evolution: Spatial proteomics sheds light on mitochondrial reduction
Leger ML and Stairs CW*

Curr Biol 32 (23): R1308-R1311

(32) Evolving perspective on the origin and diversification of cellular life and the virosphere.
Spang A, Mahendrarajah TA, Offre P, Stairs CW*

Genome Biol Evol 14(6):evac034 Cover image

(31) Hydrogen metabolism: A eukaryote taps into the electron sink.
Aguilera-Campos K and Stairs CW.

Curr Biol 32 (1) : R49-51.
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.11.012


(30) Anaeramoebae are a divergent lineage of eukaryotes that shed light on the transition from anaerobic mitochondria to hydrogenosomes.
Stairs CW, Táborský, P., Salomaki, E. D., Kolisko, M., Pánek, T., Eme, L., Hradilová, M., Vlček, Č., Jerlström-Hultqvist, J., Roger, A. J. & Čepička, I (2021)

Curr. Biol. 31 (24), 208-215.
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.10.010

(29) Microbe-mediated mn oxidation—a proposed model of mineral formation.
Sjöberg, S., Yu, C., Stairs CW, Allard, B., Hallberg, R., Henriksson, S., Åström, M. & Dupraz, C. (2021)

Minerals 11(10):1146

(28) The integrin-mediated adhesive complex in the ancestor of animals, fungi, and amoebae.
Kang S, Tice AK, Stairs CW, Lahr DJG, Jones RE, and Brown M. (2021)

Curr. Biol. 31(14):3073
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.04.076

(27) A functional bacterial-derived restriction modification system in the mitochondrion of a heterotrophic protist.
Milner DS, Wideman JG, Stairs CW, Dunn CD, and Richards TA. (2021)

PLoS Biol 19(4): e3001126
Associated content: Nat Rev Microbiol (2021). 10.1038/s41579-021-00570-3

(26) The Mastigamoeba balamuthi Genome and the Nature of the Free-Living Ancestor of Entamoeba.
Žárský V, Klimeš V, Pačes J, Vlček C, Beneš J, Nývltová E, Hrdý I, Pyrih J, Mach J, Barlow L, Stairs CW, Eme L, Hall N, Eliáš M, Dacks J, Roger AJ and Tachezy J. (2021)

Molecular biology and evolution 38 (6), 2240-2259
DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msab020

(25) Diversity of electron transport chains in anaerobic protists.
Gawryluk R and Stairs CW*.

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta- Bioenergetics


(24)     Chlamydial contribution to anaerobic metabolism during eukaryotic evolution.
Stairs CW, Dharamshi JE, Tamarit D, Eme L, Jørgensen SL, Spang A and Ettema TJG. (2020)

Science Advances 6(35):eabb7258.
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb7258
Media coverage:

(23)     Microbiomes in a manganese oxide producing ecosystem in the Ytterby mine, Sweden: impact on metal mobility.
Sjöberg S, Stairs CW, Allard B, Homa F, Martin T, Sjöberg V, Ettema TJG, Dupraz C. (2020)

FEMS Micro. Ecol. fiaa169 in press

(22)     Bubble biofilm: bacterial colonization of air-air interface.
Sjöberg S, Stairs CW, Allard B, Hallberg R, Homa F, Martin T, Ettema TJ, Dupraz C. (2020)

Biofilm, 100030.
DOI: 10.1016/j.bioflm.2020.100030
Open access:

(21)     The evolution of the Puf superfamily of proteins across the tree of eukaryotes.
Najdrova V, Stairs CW, Vinopalová M, Voleman L, and Pavel Dolezal. (2020)

BMC Biol 18:77
Open access:

(20)     Marine sediments illuminate Chlamydiae diversity and evolution.
Dharamshi JE, Tamarit D, Eme L, Stairs CW, Martijn J, Homa F, Jørgensen SL, Spang A and Ettema TJG. (2020)

Curr. Biol. 30(6):1032-1048.
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.02.016 (PDF available upon request)

Associated content (Dispatch):
Select Media coverage: Sverigeradio Morgonpasset I P3:

(19)     Stairs CW and Ettema TJG. The archaeal roots of the eukaryotic dynamic actin cytoskeleton.

Curr. Biol. 30(10):R521-6.
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.02.074 (PDF available upon request)


(18)     The Oxymonad Genome Displays Canonical Eukaryotic Complexity in the Absence of a Mitochondrion.
Karnkowska A, Treitli SC, Brzoň O, Novák L, Vacek V, Soukal P, Barlow LD, Herman EK, Pipaliya SV, Pánek T, Žihala D, Petrželková R, Butenko A, Eme L, Stairs CW, Roger AJ, Eliáš M, Dacks JB, and Hampl V. (2019)

Mol Biol Evo. 36(19):2292-2312.
DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msz147.

(17)     Proposal of the reverse flow model for the origin of the eukaryotic cell based on comparative analyses of Asgard archaeal metabolism.

Spang A, Stairs CW, Dombrowski N, Eme L, Lombard J, Caceres EF, Jørgensen SL, Baker BJ, and Ettema TJG. (2019).

Nat Microbiol 4:1138.
DOI: 10.1038/s41564-019-0406-9

Associated content (News & views):

(16)     Oxygen induces the expression of invasion and stress response genes in the anaerobic salmon parasite Spironucleus salmonicida.
Stairs CW*, Kokla A, Ástvaldsson Á, Svärd SG and Ettema TJG (2019).

BMC Biol 17:19
DOI: 10.1186/s12915-019-0634-8. 
*corresponding author


(15)     Complex evolutionary history of Elongation Factor 2 and diphthamide biosynthesis in Archaea and parabasalids.
Narrowe AB, Spang A, Stairs CW, Caceres EF, Baker BJ, Miller CS and Ettema TJG. (2018)

Gen Biol Evol 10(9):2380.
DOI: 10.1093/gbe/evy154

(14)     Microbial eukaryotes have adapted to hypoxia by horizontal acquisitions of a gene involved in rhodoquinone biosynthesis.
Stairs CW, Eme L, Munoz-Gomez S, Cohen AM, Shepperd JM, Dellaire G, Fawcett J, and Roger AJ. (2018)

eLife 2018;7:e34292
DOI: 10.7554/eLife.34292

Media coverage:

(13)     Demystifying Eukaryote Lateral Gene Transfer.
Leger MM, Eme L, Stairs CW and Roger AJ. (2018)

BioEssays. 40(5):e1700242.
DOI: 10.1002/bies.201700242


(12)     Archaea and the origin of eukaryotes.
Eme L, Spang A, Lombard J, Stairs CW, and Ettema TJG. (2017)

Nat Rev Microbiol 15:711.
DOI: 10.1038/nrmicro.2017.133

(11)     Extreme genome diversity in the hyper-prevalent parasitic eukaryote Blastocystis.
Gentekaki E, Curtis B, Stairs CW, et al. (22 authors) and Roger AJ (2017)

PLoS Biol 15(9), e2003769.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2003769

(10)     Organelles that illuminate the origins of Trichomonas hydrogenosomes and Giardia mitosomes.
Leger MM, Kolisko M, Kamikawa R, Stairs CW, et al. (12 authors) and Roger AJ. (2017)

Nat Ecol Evol 1:0092.
DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0092


(9)       The earliest stages of mitochondrial adaptation to low oxygen revealed in a novel rhizarian.
Gawryluk R, Kamikawa R, Stairs CW, Silberman JD, Brown MW, and Roger AJ. (2016)

Curr Biol 26(20); 2729.
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.08.025

(8)       Arginine deiminase pathway enzymes: evolutionary history in metamonads and other eukaryotes.
Novák, L, Zubáčová Z, Karnkowska A, Kolisko M, Hroudová M, Stairs CW, Simpson AGB, Keeling PJ, Roger AJ, Čepička I, and Hampl V. (2016)

BMC Evol Biol 16(1);197
DOI: 10.1186/s12862-016-0771-4

(7)       Hamann E, Gruber-Vodicka H, Kleiner M. Tegetmeyer H, Riedel D, Littmann S, Chen J, Milucka J, Viehweger B, Becker KW, Dong X, Stairs CW, Hinrichs K, Brown MW, Roger AJ, and Strous M. (2016) Environmental Breviatea harbour mutualistic Arcobacter epibionts.

Nature 534(7606):254.
DOI: 10.1038/nature18297

(6)       A eukaryote without a mitochondrial organelle.
Karnkowska A, Vacek V, Zubáčová Z, Treitli SC, Petrželková R, Eme L, Novák L, Žárský V, Barlow LD, Herman EK, Soukal P, Hroudová M, Doležal P, Stairs CW, Roger AJ, Eliáš M, Dacks JB, Vlček C, and Hampl V. (2016)

Curr Biol 26(10):1274–1284.
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.03.053


(5)       Diversity and origins of anaerobic metabolism in mitochondria and related organelles.
Stairs CW, Leger MM, Roger AJ (2015)

Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 370(1678).

(4)       Lateral Gene Transfer And Gene Duplication Played A Key Role In The Evolution Of Mastigamoeba balamuthi Hydrogenosomes.
Nývltová E, Stairs CW, Hrdý I, Pačes J, Roger AJ, and Tachezy J. (2015).

Mol Biol Evo 32(4):1039-1055.
DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msu408

(3) A SUF Fe-S cluster biogenesis system in the mitochondrion-related organelles of the anaerobic protist Pygsuia biforma.
Stairs CW, Eme L, Brown MW, Mutsaers C, Susko E, Dellaire G, Soanes D, van der Giezen M, and Roger AJ. (2014)

Curr Biol 24(11):1176-1186.
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.04.033

(2)       The tangled past of eukaryotic enzymes involved in anaerobic metabolism.
Hampl V, Stairs CW, and Roger AJ. (2011)

Mob Gen Elements 1(1):71.
DOI: 10.4161/mge.1.1.15588

(1)       Eukaryotic pyruvate formate lyase and its activating enzyme were acquired laterally from a firmicute.
Stairs CW, Roger AJ, and Hampl V. (2011)

Mol Biol Evo 28(7):2087.
DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msr032