Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chancellor's Colloquium on Evolution: Illuminating the Microbial World

Which Chancellor?  Oh yeah -- the disgraced chancellor!  I guess even disgrace has lost its meaning.  They haven't even bothered to change the name of this lecture series.

Subject: [Everyone] Chancellor's Colloquium on Evolution: Illuminating the Microbial World ...

The first in this semester's series of the Chancellor's Colloquium on Evolution takes place tomorrow, Wed Feb 17 2010 in 1320 DCL at 4pm.  This talk, by Professor Ed DeLong from MIT, describes the exciting perspective on evolution that has arisen from genomic studies of the microbial world.  I look forward to seeing you there.

Past talks in the series may be viewed at the Colloquium's website:

Place: 1320 DCL
Time: 4pm
Date: Wed Feb 17, 2010

Illuminating the microbial world: the key to understanding the evolution and ecology of the living Earth system

Ed DeLong (MIT)

Despite the central importance of the microbial world to the biosphere, its complexity and evolution remain shrouded in mystery.  However, with major advances in genome technology and theoretical  modeling, our understanding and appreciation of the biosphere is undergoing an exciting revolution.  This lecture will give a
broadly accessible overview of these developments.  In particular, I will describe how genetic inventories of whole communities, single-cell genomics and mathematical modeling of the simultaneous interplay between all levels of biological organization --- from genomes to ecosystems --- are beginning to provide a clear picture of the microbial collectives that maintain global cycles of energy and material. Together these new advances, experimental and theoretical, paint a compelling picture of the emergent properties of microbial communities that dominate the evolutionary and ecological processes of our living planet Earth.

About the speaker

Dr. DeLong received his Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and completed postdoctoral training at Indiana University, Bloomington, where he did some of the first molecular studies of marine picoplankton. Dr. DeLong developed the first of the rRNA-based fluorescent hybridization probes, "phylogenetic stains," which identify by microscopy single cells phylogenetically. His work opened a new window for the identification and characterization of bacteria in nature.  Dr. DeLong subsequently worked on the use of 16s RNA gene cloning and sequencing as a way of analyzing complex microbial communities in nature. He discovered marine archaea, planktonic and symbiotic. This work completely changed our image of the role of archaea in the biosphere. Using culture-independent molecular techniques, Dr. DeLong showed that archaea are very widespread and abundant in the world oceans. Another significant contribution has been Dr. DeLong's identification of anaerobic methane oxidizing bacteria. This work is showing that individual groups of microbes are metabolically versatile but in teams they can do almost anything that is thermodynamically possible.

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