The genomic architecture of mitochondria

Theme: Evolution & Adaptation

Primary Supervisor:

Nick Lane

Genetics, Evolution and Environment, UCL

Nick Lane's Profile Picture

Secondary Supervisor:

Vincent Jansen

School of Biological Sciences, RHUL

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Project Description:

Mitochondria transitioned from free-living bacteria to obligate symbionts of eukaryotic cells. In this process they gave up a good part of their genome (either lost or transferred to the nucleus of their host cell) and their reproductive independence (which is now controlled by the nucleus).

Little is known regarding this fundamental transition. We are interested in which scenarios favor the transfer of genes from bacteria engulfed by a cell to the nucleus, and the transfer of reproductive control to the host nucleus.

In the first place we will do this through studying models of the evolutionary dynamics of mitochondrial genes. By taking a gene eye-view we will be able to determine when the gene copies in the nuclear genome would outcompete the ones in the mitochondrial genome. We plan to test model predictions using model organism such as Chlamydomonas and Yeast.

Additional supervision with Francisco Ubeda (RHUL) & Andrew Pomiankowski (UCL)

Policy Impact of Research:

This research will allow a better understaning of the interaction between mitochondrial and nuclear genes, their interaction with a variety of environmental variables, as well as a range of medical disorders.

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