Olga Zhaxybayeva

|Associate Professor
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.


Life Sciences Center, Room 333
HB 6044


Biological Sciences


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

Selected Publications

  • Zhengshuang Hua, Matthew Ouellette, Andrea M. Makkay, R. Thane Papke, and Olga Zhaxybayeva (2021): “Nutrient supplementation experiments with saltern microbial communities implicate utilization of DNA as a source of phosphorus”, ISME Journal, online ahead of print, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41396-021-00960-8

  • Emma S. Esterman, Yuri I. Wolf, Roman Kogay, Eugene V. Koonin, and Olga Zhaxybayeva (2021): “Evolution of DNA packaging in gene transfer agents”, Virus Evolution, 7: veab015.

  • 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.

+ View more