Distinguished Professor David Penny

Distinguished Professor David Penny staff profile picture

Distinguished Professor

Institute of Fundamental Sciences

Telephone: +64 (06) 356 9099  ext. 84710

Research Expertise

Research Interests



Resource Development and Management

Area of Expertise

Field of Research Codes
Biological Sciences (060000)

Research Projects

Completed Projects

Project Title: Genome-scale plant phylogeny and the challenge of symmetric sequence

The research will gain a better understanding of plant phylogeny ¿ the development of a species over time as contrasted with the development of an individual. By measuring the impact of lineage-species molecular evolution for a range of time scales and gain a better understanding of deep plant phylogeny.
Read Project DescriptionHide Project Description

Date Range: 2006 - 2009

Funding Body: Royal Society of New Zealand

Project Team:

Project Title: From Genomics to properties of the last Eukaryote common ancestor

Eukaryotes show a tremendous diversity of lifestyles, from plants and fungi that make all necessary chemical compounds from only very basic food sources, to animals that acquire many essential amino acids and enzyme cofactors (vitamins) by consuming other organisms. But which came first? The nature and origins of the earliest complex unicellular eukaryotes remains a mystery, and one with deep implications for the history of life on earth. We are using new genomic sequences from every group of eukaryotics to test information about the biosynthetic capabilities of two key early ancestors: (i) the last common ancestor of all modern eukaryotes; and (ii) the ancestral cell that engulfed the mitochondrion. These results will help resolve some of the most central questions of the origins of complex life. Our immediate goal is to reconstruct the biosynthetic enzymes present in early ancestors of all eukaryotes. The longer-term goal is to put real biology into genomics (or vice versa): to harness comparative genomics to yield useful information about the life history and cell biology of organisms.
Read Project DescriptionHide Project Description

Date Range: 2011 - 2014

Funding Body: Marsden Fund - Full

Project Team:

Research Outputs


Penny, ED., & Harrison, A. (2013, November). Hepatitis B in the South Pacific. Presented at Communities of learning: riding with the changing tides. The centre, Manawatu Campus, Massey University.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Penny, E.

Supervision and Teaching

Papers Coordinated

Current Postgraduate Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • Simon Cox - PhD
    From Genomics to Properties of the Last Eukaryotic Common Ancestor
  • Toni Daly - PhD
    The Vault Ribonucleoprotein Particles

Completed Postgraduate Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • 2014 - Bojian Zhong- PhD
    Phylogenomics and Plant Evolution
  • 2013 - Bennet McComish- PhD
    Exploring biological sequence space: Selected problems in sequence analysis and phylogenetics
  • 2012 - Kerryn Slack- PhD
    Avian Phylogeny and & Divergence Times based on Mitogenomic Sequences
  • 2010 - Gillian Gibb- PhD
    Birds in a tree: A journey through avian phylogeny with particular emphasis on the birds of New Zealand
  • 2009 - Ang McGaughran- PhD
    Polar evolution: Molecular genetic and physiological parameters of Antartic arthropod populations
  • 2009 - Klaus Schliep- PhD
    Statistical phylogenetics
  • 2009 - Renae Pratt- PhD
    Patterns and processes in animal evoluation: Molecular phylogenetics of Southern Hemisphere fauna
  • 2009 - Andrew Clarke- PhD
    Origins and Dispersal of the Sweet Potato and Bottle Gourd in Oceania: Implications for Prehistoric Human Mobility
  • 2008 - Xiaowei Chen- PhD
    Non-protein-coding-RNA processing in the deep-branching protozoan parasite Giardia Intestinalis
  • 2004 - Mrs Lesley Joan Collins- PhD
    Lost in the RNA World: Non-coding RNA and the Spliceosome in the Eukaryotic Ancestor.
  • 2002 - Mr Matthew James Phillips- PhD
    Monotremata, Marsupialia and Placentalia: Inferring Phylogenetic Relationships From Molecular and Morphological Data.
  • 2001 - Mr Yu-Hsin Lin- PhD
    Mammalian Evolution and phylogeny from Complete Mitochondrial Genomes.
  • 2001 - Mr Anthony Masamu Poole- PhD
    The origin and evolution of prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
  • 1996 - Ms Elizabeth Evelyn Watson- PhD
    Threads From The Past: A Genetic Study of African Ethnic Groups and Human Origins.
  • 1996 - Mr Peter John Waddell- PhD
    Statistical Methods of Phylogenetic Analysis: Including Hadamard Conjugations, LogDet Transforms, and Maximum Likelihood.
  • 1993 - Mr Robert Eric Hickson- PhD
    Evolutionary Tails from the South Pacific

CoSupervisor of:

Contact UsMon - Fri 8:30am to 4:55pm0800 MASSEY (+64 6 350 5701)TXT 5222contact@massey.ac.nzWeb chatMyMasseyStaffAlumniNewsMāori @ Massey