Jan Sapp

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Jan Sapp
Jan Anthony Sapp

June 12, 1954 (1954-06-12) (age 65)
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Scientific career
FieldsBiology, history
InstitutionsYork University

Jan Anthony Sapp (born June 12, 1954) is a professor in the Department of Biology, York University, Canada.[1] His writings focus especially on evolutionary biology beyond the classical neoDarwinian framework, and emphasize the fundamental importance of symbiosis and horizontal gene transfer in heredity and evolution.


Sapp was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia.[citation needed] He completed his BSc hons (Biology) at Dalhousie University in 1976 before earning his MSc and Phd at the Institut d’histoire et de sociopolitique des sciences, at l'Université de Montréal in 1984.[2][3] He subsequently held an appointment at the University of Melbourne for eight years, where he also served as chair of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science.[3] He was Andrew Mellon Fellow at the Rockefeller University, 1991-92.[3] He held the Canada Research Chair (tier 1) in the History of the Biological Sciences at l’Université du Québec à Montréal from 2001-2003[4] before returning to York University where he has been a professor since 1992.

Sapp's book Evolution by Association (1994) is the first book to document the history of symbiosis in depth. It was described in a review as a "fine piece of scholarship".[5] He subsequently introduced the terms "symbiome" and "symbiomics" to biology in his book Genesis: The Evolution of Biology (2003). He developed this line of historical research beyond classical neoDarwinian biology further in his book on the history of microbial phylogenetics, The New Foundations of Evolution: On the Tree of Life (2009). He is also known for his writing on the coral reef crisis, focusing in detail on the outbreaks of crown of thorns starfish and coral bleaching.[6] His recent book Coexistence: The Ecology and Evolution of Tropical Biology (2016) focuses on the history of tropical biology, and on what he calls the "central enigma" in tropical ecology.


  1. Sapp, Jan (2016). Coexistence: The Ecology and Evolution of Tropical Biodiversity. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0190632445.
  2. Sapp, Jan (2009). The New Foundations of Evolution: On the Tree of Life. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195388497.[7]
  3. Microbial Phylogeny and Evolution: Concepts and Controversies. Jan Sapp (ed.). Oxford University Press, USA. 2005. ISBN 978-0195168778.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. Sapp, Jan (2003). Genesis: The Evolution of Biology. Oxford: New York : Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195156195.
  5. Sapp, Jan (1999). What is Natural? : Coral Reef Crisis. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195123647.
  6. Sapp, Jan (1994). Evolution by Association: A History of Symbiosis. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195088212.
  7. Sapp, Jan (1990). Where the Truth Lies: Franz Moewus and the Origins of Molecular Biology. Cambridge [England] ; New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521365505.
  8. Sapp, Jan (1987). Beyond the Gene: Cytoplasmic Inheritance and the Struggle for Authority in Genetics. Monographs on the history and philosophy of biology. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195042061.

Recent publications[edit]

  1. Gilbert, S. F.; Sapp, J.; Tauber, A. I. (2012). "A symbiotic view of life: We have never been individuals". The Quarterly Review of Biology. 87 (4): 325–341. doi:10.1086/668166. PMID 23397797.
  2. Pace, N. R.; Sapp, J.; Goldenfeld, N. (2012). "Classic Perspective: Phylogeny and beyond: Scientific, historical, and conceptual significance of the first tree of life". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109 (4): 1011–1018. doi:10.1073/pnas.1109716109. PMC 3268332. PMID 22308526.
  3. Sapp, Jan (April 2012). "Race Finished". American Scientist. 100 (2). p. 164. doi:10.1511/2012.95.164. ISSN 0003-0996.
  4. Sapp, Jan (2012). "Evolution Replayed". BioScience. 62 (7): 693–694. doi:10.1525/bio.2012.62.7.14.
  5. Sapp, Jan (2012-10-22). "Too Fantastic for Polite Society". In Dorion Sagan (ed.) (eds.). Lynn Margulis: the life and legacy of a scientific rebel (1 ed.). Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing. pp. 54–67. ISBN 9781603584463.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  6. Sapp, Jan (2012). "Horizontal Gene Transfer and the Tree of Life". In Joseph Seckbach (ed.) (eds.). Genesis - In The Beginning. Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology. 22. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. pp. 743–755. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-2941-4_37. ISBN 978-94-007-2941-4.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  7. Sapp, Jan (2011). "Lamarckian Leaps in the Microbial World". In Snait Gissis and Eva Jablonka (ed.) (eds.). Transformations of Lamarckism: from subtle fluids to molecular biology. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. pp. 271–283. ISBN 9780262015141.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  8. Sapp, J. (2010). "On the Origin of Symbiosis". In Joseph Seckbach and Martin Grube (ed.) (eds.). Symbioses and Stress. Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology. 17. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. pp. 3‒18. doi:10.1007/978-90-481-9449-0_1. ISBN 978-90-481-9449-0.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  9. Sapp, J. (2010). "Saltational symbiosis". Theory in Biosciences. 129 (2–3): 125–133. doi:10.1007/s12064-010-0089-5. PMID 20535601.


  1. ^ "Jan Sapp". York University: Graduate Program in Biology. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
  2. ^ Ailie Smith; Ann McCarthy (2010-07-27). "Provenance: Dr Jan Anthony Sapp". The University of Melbourne - Guide to the Records of Dr Jan Sapp Regarding the Briggs Affair. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
  3. ^ a b c Symbioses and Stress: Joint Ventures in Biology. Joseph Seckbach (ed.). Springer. 2010-01-01. ISBN 9789048194490.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ Sévigny, Judith; Claire Deschênes; Monique Frize; Safaa Mohamed (2003-03-07). Canada Research Chairs Compilation (PDF). Ottawa, Canada: Canada Research Chairs Secretariat. p. 36. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2005-06-01.
  5. ^ Haygood, Margo. (1995). The Symbiotic Perspective. Evolution by Association: A History of Symbiosis by Jan Sapp. Science. New Series, Vol. 268, No. 5214. pp. 1209-1212.
  6. ^ Verner, Brent. "What Is Natural?: Jan Sapp". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
  7. ^ Byrnes, W. Malcolm (January–February 2010). "Review: The New Foundations of Evolution by Jan Sapp". American Scientist.

External links[edit]