Nika Pende

Archaea Biology and Ecogenomics Unit, University of Vienna

Email nikapende[at]
Project Name DivDynA
Publication Page
Field of research Prokaryotic cell biology
Keywords Archaea | methanogens | cell growth and division | evolution

Archaeal Cytokinesis Taking Center Stage


What is my research about?

My research addresses a very fundamental question: how do archaeal cells divide? While most cell biology research focuses on eukaryotes and bacteria, archaea have been largely neglected. They were originally thought to be microorganisms living in extreme environments, but now we know that archaea are ubiquitous, ecologically and evolutionary important. They live in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and other animals. Elucidating the components involved in archaeal cytokinesis will help to better understand their biology and impact on their hosts.

What motivates me?
I am a naturally curious person that enjoys challenges. That is why I decided to study non-model organisms – they are difficult to work with as they cannot be genetically manipulated and yet there are many new things to be discovered about them. I also love microscopy – getting the opportunity to try different kinds of microscopes and new techniques in order to visualize the components involved and to understand the mechanism behind a specific process is extremely satisfying.

What would I be if not a scientist?
I am a creative person, which is extremely useful as a scientist. I also appreciate art; therefore, I always try to make my microscopy images and figures not only informative, but also esthetically pleasing. I am also a decorative arts, semi-precious/precious stones and jewelry aficionado. I guess if I wouldn’t be a scientist I would be a jeweler. To me, science and art require a similar level of passion, dedication, and creativity.