Eric H Lyons
Advisor, CALS' Office of the Assoc Dean - Research for Cyber Initiatives in Agricultural / Life - Vet Science
Associate Professor, Agricultural-Biosystems Engineering
Associate Professor, BIO5 Institute
Associate Professor, Genetics - GIDP
Associate Professor, Plant Science
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 626-5070
Research Interest
Eric Lyons, PhD is an assistant professor at the University of Arizona School of Plant Sciences. Dr. Lyons is internationally known for his work in understanding the evolution, structure, and dynamics of genomes. Core to his research activities is the development of software systems for managing and analyzing genomic data and cyberinfrastructure for the life sciences.Dr. Lyons has published over 30 original research papers and 5 book chapters, many in collaboration with investigators from around the world. He is a frequent presenter at national and international meetings, and has been invited to teach workshops on the analysis of genomic data to plant, vertebrate, invertebrate, microbe, and health researchers.Prior to joining the faculty in the School of Plant Sciences, Dr. Lyons worked with the iPlant Collaborative developing cyberinfrastructure, and managing its scientific activities. In addition, he spent five years working in industry at biotech, pharmaceutical, and software companies. Dr. Lyons’ core software system for managing and analyzing genomic data is called CoGe, and is available for use at


Banks, J. A., Nishiyama, T., Hasebe, M., Bowman, J. L., Gribskov, M., DePamphilis, C., Albert, V. A., Aono, N., Aoyama, T., Ambrose, B. A., Ashton, N. W., Axtell, M. J., Barker, E., Barker, M. S., Bennetzen, J. L., Bonawitz, N. D., Chapple, C., Cheng, C., Gustavo, L., , Dacre, M., et al. (2011). The Selaginella genome identifies genetic changes associated with the evolution of vascular plants. Science, 332(6032), 960-963.
BIO5 Collaborators
Michael S Barker, Eric H Lyons

PMID: 21551031;PMCID: PMC3166216;Abstract:

Vascular plants appeared ∼410 million years ago, then diverged into several lineages of which only two survive: the euphyllophytes (ferns and seed plants) and the lycophytes. We report here the genome sequence of the lycophyte Selaginella moellendorffii (Selaginella), the first nonseed vascular plant genome reported. By comparing gene content in evolutionarily diverse taxa, we found that the transition from a gametophyte- to a sporophyte-dominated life cycle required far fewer new genes than the transition from a nonseed vascular to a flowering plant, whereas secondary metabolic genes expanded extensively and in parallel in the lycophyte and angiosperm lineages. Selaginella differs in posttranscriptional gene regulation, including small RNA regulation of repetitive elements, an absence of the trans-acting small interfering RNA pathway, and extensive RNA editing of organellar genes.

Schnable, J. C., Freeling, M., & Lyons, E. (2012). Genome-wide analysis of syntenic gene deletion in the grasses. Genome biology and evolution, 4(3), 265-77.

The grasses, Poaceae, are one of the largest and most successful angiosperm families. Like many radiations of flowering plants, the divergence of the major grass lineages was preceded by a whole-genome duplication (WGD), although these events are not rare for flowering plants. By combining identification of syntenic gene blocks with measures of gene pair divergence and different frequencies of ancient gene loss, we have separated the two subgenomes present in modern grasses. Reciprocal loss of duplicated genes or genomic regions has been hypothesized to reproductively isolate populations and, thus, speciation. However, in contrast to previous studies in yeast and teleost fishes, we found very little evidence of reciprocal loss of homeologous genes between the grasses, suggesting that post-WGD gene loss may not be the cause of the grass radiation. The sets of homeologous and orthologous genes and predicted locations of deleted genes identified in this study, as well as links to the CoGe comparative genomics web platform for analyzing pan-grass syntenic regions, are provided along with this paper as a resource for the grass genetics community.

Albert, V. A., Barbazuk, W. B., Der, J. P., Leebens-Mack, J., Ma, H., Palmer, J. D., Rounsley, S., Sankoff, D., Schuster, S. C., Soltis, D. E., & others, . (2013). The Amborella Genome and the Evolution of Flowering Plants. Science, 342(6165), 1241089.
Wu, Y., Sheehan, P. D., Males, J. R., Close, L. M., Morzinski, K. M., Teske, J. K., Haug-Baltzell, A., Merchant, N., & Lyons, E. (2017). An ALMA and MagAO study of the substellar companion GQ Lup B. The Astrophysical Journal, 836(2), 223.
Zheng, C., Swenson, K., Lyons, E., & Sankoff, D. (2011). OMG! Orthologs in Multiple Genomes - Competing graph-theoretical formulations. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics), 6833 LNBI, 364-375.


From the set of all pairwise homologies, weighted by sequence similarities, among a set of genomes, we seek disjoint orthology sets of genes, in which each element is orthogonal to all other genes (on a different genome) in the same set. In a graph-theoretical formulation, where genes are vertices and weighted edges represent homologies, we suggest three criteria, with three different biological motivations, for evaluating the partition of genes produced by deletion of a subset of edges: i) minimum weight edge removal, ii) minimum degree-zero vertex creation, and iii) maximum number of edges in the transitive closure of the graph after edge deletion. For each of the problems, all either proved or conjectured to be NP-hard, we suggest approximate and heuristic algorithms of finding orthology sets satisfying the criteria, and show how to incorporate genomes that have a whole genome duplication event in their immediate lineage. We apply this to ten flowering plant genomes, involving 160,000 different genes in given pairwise homologies. We evaluate the results in a number of ways and recommend criterion iii) as best suited to applications to multiple gene order alignment. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.