DNA, RNA, PROTEIN, TIME: Using long term evolution experiments to study early evolution

by Anthony Poole (School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, New Zealand)

Magnéli Hall, Arrhenius Laboratories

Magnéli Hall, Arrhenius Laboratories

Understanding the origin of molecular processes is central our understanding of how life on Earth evolved. This area of research has traditionally been difficult to study experimentally, and most progress has been in the areas of theory and comparative genomics. In this talk, I will present recent work that shows how long term evolution experiments using E. coli can help shed light on the origins of molecular processes. In a long-term evolution experiment, we can set initial conditions, and observe a population as it evolves over thousands of generations. We are using this approach to test hypotheses on the origin of RNA editing and on the origin of formyl-methionine use in bacterial translation initiation. Finally, I will show how we are attempting to rewire cells to perform deoxyribonucleotide synthesis without ribonucleotide reductase, using a pathway favoured by prebiotic chemists as a plausible early route to DNA.

Anthony Poole is an Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Canterbury. He previously worked at Stockholm University in the former Department of Molecular Biology & Functional Genomics, and the Astrobiology Graduate School. He is currently holder of a Royal Society of New Zealand Rutherford Discovery Fellowship.

Host: Britt-Marie Sjöberg