Our research themes
Astrobiology combines multidisciplinary approaches to study the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the universe, including the Earth, the only biological planet known so far.
Our research focusses on the evolution and paleobiology of early life, from the study of its earliest fossil traces in the Archean to the diversification of early eukaryotes in the Proterozoic, and the characterization and fossilization of biosignatures useful for paleobiology and astrobiology.
We combine analyzes of the morphology, ultrastructure and microchemistry of microfossils and of modern relatives (protists, cyanobacteria, microbial mats), at the micro- and nano-scales, with the investigation of the geological and mineralogical contexts and with insights from molecular phylogenies, to enlighten the early stages of life evolution, diversification, paleobiology, paleobiochemistry and paleoecology.
We are particularly interested to understand the causes and patterns of biological evolution and rise of complexity (eukaryogenesis and eukaryotic diversification) on the early Earth, in relation with the environmental context (oxygenation, impacts, volcanism, glaciations, tectonics, nutrient availability), biological innovations (cellular features, metallome, biomineralization, life cycles, multicellularity) and ecological interactions (symbiosis, predation, ecosystems evolution).
We apply our macroscale to nanoscale study of early life traces to the detection of extraterrestrial biosignatures in the solar system (Exomars 2022 mission) and beyond (Exoplanets), and to multidisciplinary discussions on planetary habitability.
Keywords : Earliest traces of life in the Archean-Geobiology-Geomicrobiology-Evolution-Paleobiology-Paleobiochemistry-Paleoecology-Phototrophy-Eukaryogenesis-Proterozoic eukaryotic diversification-Acritarchs-Cyanobacteria-Microbial mats-Fossilisation-Micro-scale and nano-scale analyzes (FTIR, Raman, SR-XRF, SR-XANES,TEM, FIB-TEM)-Precambrian-Astrobiology (habitability, biosignatures)