Co-Evolution of Escherichia coli and its parasite Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus: An experimental model for Eukaryogenesis
Dr. Margie Kinnersley
 
 
Dr. Margie Kinnersley NASA Post-Doctoral Fellow, Rosenzweig Laboratory; margie.kinnersley(at)mso.umt.edu
 
 
The history of Life on Earth has been punctuated by major transitions in cellular form and function that have driven significant increases in cellular complexity. Among these transitions, perhaps the most crucial to understanding extant biodiversity is the transition from prokaryote to eukaryote (eukaryogenesis). Because the timing of eukaryogenesis coincides with the phylogenetic origin of the mitochondrion, it has been hypothesized that acquisition of this organelle heralded the prokaryote-eukaryote transition. I am working to establish a simple, straightforward model for the advent of mitochondria using Escherichia coli and its intracellular prokaryotic pathogen, Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus. This co-evolving system will be used to test hypotheses concerning ecological prerequisites for, early molecular events in, and evolutionary consequences of incipient endosymbiosis based on metabolic niche partitioning and energy generation, exactly the features that define the mitochondrion’s role in eukaryotic systems. Understanding these aspects of mitochondriogenesis is essential for truly understanding the prokaryotic/eukaryotic transition and thus is applicable to the study of myriad aspects of cellular and organismal diversity.
 
This is a laboratory-based project that does not involve field work. An Intern on this project would be expected to: perform precise, repetitive tasks; stand for moderate amounts of time; lift up to 20 lbs; use potentially hazardous reagents under supervision.
 
Key words: experimental evolution, mitochondriogenesis, evolution of complexity, parasitism, eukaryogenesis