Microbiology's Platypus

Head of Team

Damien DEVOS


After graduating in molecular microbiology from Namur university, BE, Damien P. Devos realized his PhD in bioiformatics at the National Center for Biotechnology (CNB), in Madrid, SP. He then spend his post-doctoral period at the Rockefeller university, NY and UCSF, SF in the USA in structural biology. During this time, he participated in the development of a new method in Integrative Structural Biology and applied it to the nuclear pore complex. He then started his independent position at the EMBL, Heidelberg, DE and at the Heidelberg university, DE. He moved to the Andalusian Center of Developmental Biology to pursue his work on PVC bacteria and evolution. He joined the Instut Pasteur de Lille as a laureate of the StaRS, from the Region Hauts-de-France, in 2023. The team led by Damien P. Devos investigates the divergent cell biology of PVC bacteria and their position in the Tree of Lifea from experimental, computational and theoretical approaches.

Damien P. Devos 0000-0002-9453-4753 7004062844

Revolution in culture-free sequencing techniques has revealed the huge biodiversity of organisms that are found outside of our labs. Less than 1% of known bacteria are culturable in the laThis diversity includes organisms with features previously unexpected, such as bacteria with a developed membrane system, or bacteria dividing asymetrically without the FtsZ protein, otherwise essential and unviersaly conserved. We work on bacteria from the superphylum Planctomycetes, Verrucomicrobia and Chlamydiae. These bacteria are non-model organisms representative of the biodiversity and containing divergent biology that we need to characterize. Some of the features found in those bacteria are not frequently found in bacteria and more usually associated to archaea or eukaryotes. For this reasons, these bacteria have been called the Platypus of microbiology and might redefine our current view of the Tree of Life, the relationship between all organisms and the development of pathogenicity.
We study those bacteria from a multi-species, multi-techniques approaches, experimental, computational and theoretical.
In particular, the team studies in PVC bacteria:
1. Division modes
2. Endomebrane systems
3. The Tree of Life

The squalene route to C30 carotenoid biosynthesis and the origins of carotenoid biosynthetic pathways.

Santana-Molina C, Henriques V, Hornero-Méndez D, Devos DP, Rivas-Marin E. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Dec 27;119(52):e2210081119. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2210081119. Epub 2022 Dec 19. PMID: 36534808

Reconciling Asgardarchaeota Phylogenetic Proximity to Eukaryotes and Planctomycetes Cellular Features in the Evolution of Life.

Devos DP. Mol Biol Evol. 2021 Aug 23;38(9):3531-3542. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msab186. PMID: 34229349

Origin and Evolution of Polycyclic Triterpene Synthesis.

Santana-Molina C, Rivas-Marin E, Rojas AM, Devos DP. Mol Biol Evol. 2020 Jul 1;37(7):1925-1941. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msaa054. PMID: 32125435

Non-essentiality of canonical cell division genes in the planctomycete Planctopirus limnophila.

Rivas-Marin E, Peeters SH, Claret Fernández L, Jogler C, van Niftrik L, Wiegand S, Devos DP. Sci Rep. 2020 Jan 9;10(1):66. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-56978-8. PMID: 31919386

Essentiality of sterol synthesis genes in the planctomycete bacterium Gemmata obscuriglobus.

Rivas-Marin E, Stettner S, Gottshall EY, Santana-Molina C, Helling M, Basile F, Ward NL, Devos DP. Nat Commun. 2019 Jul 2;10(1):2916. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-10983-7. PMID: 31266954