Archaea – how a forgotten domain illuminates the dark ages in life’s evolution

Öffentlicher Abendvortrag

Archaea represent a major prokaryotic domain of life besides Bacteria but were recognized as such only about 40 years ago. Cultivation-independent approaches have recently  allowed the reconstruction of genomes of uncultivated microorganisms and revealed that archaea are taxonomically much more diverse and widely distributed in the biosphere than assumed previously. I will present a historical perspective of the ‘evolution’ of the archaeal tree of life, which will give a synopsis of our current knowledge of archaeal taxonomic and  metabolic diversity today. In particular, I will discuss how genome analyses of the Asgard archaea have allowed fundamental new insights into the evolution of eukaryotes and how the investigation of enigmatic DPANN archaea has started to change our view on the earliest transitions in the tree of life.

Anja Spang is an evolutionary microbiologist currently working as  a tenure track scientist at Department of Microbiology and Biogeochemistry at NIOZ, Netherlands Institute for Sea Research in the Netherlands as well as Uppsala University. She   defended her doctoral thesis on the evolution of Thaumarchaeota in 2013 and has focused on illuminating the archaeal role in the origin of Eukaryotes during her post-doctoral studies. Her current research focuses on elucidating the role of potentially symbiotic DPANN archaea in the early evolution of life and in the diversification of Archaea. Her main interests include archaeal genomics, metabolism and evolution, microbial symbiosis and eukaryogenesis. She has more than 30 publications and got numerous awards and honors.

Moderation: Professor Dr. Tim Urich

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