Nicole King (University of California, Berkeley)
MolBio Seminar Series
Nicole King is an Associate Professor of Genetics, Genomics and Development at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studies the origin and early evolution of animals. Dr. King earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Harvard University and studied animal origins as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She has received a MacArthur “Genius” Award, was selected for the Pew Scholar’s Program in the Biomedical Sciences, appointed as a Scholar in Integrated Microbial Biodiversity Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and received the George Bartholomew Award in Comparative Physiology from the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Her research has been covered in the scientific and popular press, including the New York Times, SCIENCE, and National Public Radio.
Choanoflagellate colony development and the origin of animal multicellularity
Choanoflagellate colony development and the origin of animal multicellularity The evolution of animals from their single celled ancestors represents one of the major transitions in life’s history. The origin of animals was shaped by extensive genomic and gene regulatory innovations, co-option of pre-existing genes to new functions in cell adhesion and signaling, rising atmospheric and oceanic oxygen concentrations, and the subsequent influence of new selective pressures. By studying choanoflagellates, the closest living relatives of animals, my lab aims to reconstruct the genome and biology of the last common ancestor of animals. During my talk I will discuss our recent findings regarding the ancestry of animal gene families and the potential connections between genome evolution and animal origins. In addition, I will describe our development of a colony-forming choanoflagellate, Salpingoeca rosetta, as a new model for investigating the origin of animal multicellularity. Through our study of S. rosetta, we have discovered that a developmental switch in choanoflagellates is regulated by a secreted signal from environmental bacteria. Explaining how the intersection of genetic novelty, gene co-option, and environmental interactions contributed to the transition to multicellularity has important implications both for understanding early animal evolution and for identifying the foundations of animal cell biology.
Free and open to the university community and the public