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WID seminar: James Lake

Using Genomes to Track the Evolution of Life on Earth
James A. Lake, MCD Biology and Human Genetics, UCLA.
Today Evolutionary Genomics is in a state of crisis because we mistakenly assumed that once complete genome became available – the tree of life on Earth, including extemophile origins, could be easily reconstructed in considerable detail. Instead, all of us in the field agree that we cannot easily determine a single tree. Different genes have different histories. However, everyone seems to have different reasons for why they think that this happens. Here, I'll make the case that Darwinian tree-like evolution, and the "survival of the fittest" metaphor give an incomplete view of evolution and that we need to focus more upon both tree like evolution and cooperation between organisms (endosymbioses, symbioses, and other types of gene sharing) to accurately reconstruct evolutionary histories.
Trees are easy to calculate from genomic data, but we must combine survival of the fittest and cooperation, if we are to reconstruct the evolution of life on Earth. Methods to do this are vastly more complex and are just being developed. But they are much more revealing about the history of life. I'll describe some of the remarkable findings that are now being obtained using these new methods.

3280B WID (3rd floor teaching lab)
25 Oct 2012 - 1:30pm