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
(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.

Nelson, A. D., Forsythe, E. S., Devisetty, U. K., Clausen, D. S., Haug-Batzell, A. K., Meldrum, A. M., Frank, M. R., Lyons, E., & Beilstein, M. A. (2016). A genomic analysis of factors driving lincRNA diversification: lessons from plants. G3: Genes| Genomes| Genetics, 6(9), 2881--2891.
Luo, M., Gu, Y. Q., Puiu, D., Wang, H., Twardziok, S. O., Deal, K. R., Huo, N., Zhu, T., Wang, L. e., Wang, Y. i., & others, . (2017). Genome sequence of the progenitor of the wheat D genome Aegilops tauschii. Nature, 551(7681).
Ming, R., Hou, S., Feng, Y., Qingyi, Y. u., Dionne-Laporte, A., Saw, J. H., Senin, P., Wang, W., Ly, B. V., L., K., Salzberg, S. L., Feng, L., Jones, M. R., Skelton, R. L., Murray, J. E., Chen, C., Qian, W., Shen, J., Peng, D. u., , Eustice, M., et al. (2008). The draft genome of the transgenic tropical fruit tree papaya (Carica papaya Linnaeus). Nature, 452(7190), 991-996.

PMID: 18432245;PMCID: PMC2836516;Abstract:

Papaya, a fruit crop cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions, is known for its nutritional benefits and medicinal applications. Here we report a 3× draft genome sequence of 'SunUp' papaya, the first commercial virus-resistant transgenic fruit tree to be sequenced. The papaya genome is three times the size of the Arabidopsis genome, but contains fewer genes, including significantly fewer disease-resistance gene analogues. Comparison of the five sequenced genomes suggests a minimal angiosperm gene set of 13,311. A lack of recent genome duplication, atypical of other angiosperm genomes sequenced so far, may account for the smaller papaya gene number in most functional groups. Nonetheless, striking amplifications in gene number within particular functional groups suggest roles in the evolution of tree-like habit, deposition and remobilization of starch reserves, attraction of seed dispersal agents, and adaptation to tropical daylengths. Transgenesis at three locations is closely associated with chloroplast insertions into the nuclear genome, and with topoisomerase I recognition sites. Papaya offers numerous advantages as a system for fruit-tree functional genomics, and this draft genome sequence provides the foundation for revealing the basis of Carica's distinguishing morpho-physiological, medicinal and nutritional properties. ©2008 Nature Publishing Group.

VanBuren, R., Bryant, D., Edger, P. P., Tang, H., Burgess, D., Challabathula, D., Spittle, K., Hall, R., Gu, J., Lyons, E., & others, . (2015). Single-molecule sequencing of the desiccation-tolerant grass Oropetium thomaeum.. Nature.