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It Pays to Be Different:Evolutionary Distinctiveness and Conservation Priorities

Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:15:25 +0000

The world is currently experiencing an extinction crisis. A mass extinction on a scale not seen since the dinosaurs. While conservationists work tirelessly to try and protect the World’s biodiversity, it will not be possible to save everything, and it is important to focus conservation efforts intelligently. Evolutionary distinctiveness is a measure of how isolated [...]

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Synthetic Biology and Conservation

Mon, 07 Jul 2014 16:20:18 +0000

Synthetic biology, a hybrid between Engineering and Biology, is an emerging field of research promising to change the way we think about manufacturing, medicine, food production, and even conservation and sustainability. A review paper released this month in Oryx, authored by Dr Kent Redford, Professor William Adams, Dr Rob Carlson, Bertina Ceccarelli and CBER’s Professor [...]

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Measure Twice, Cut Once: Quantifying Biases in Sexual Selection Studies

Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:44:30 +0000

Bateman’s principles are conceptually quite simple, but form the basis of our understanding of sexual selection across the animal kingdom. First proposed in 1948, Bateman’s three principles posit that sexual selection is more intense in males than in females for three reasons: 1) males show more variability in the number of mates they have (mating [...]

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Technology for Nature?

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:23:54 +0000

Many of our greatest technological advances have tended to mark disaster for nature. Cars guzzle fossil fuels and contribute to global warming; industrialised farming practices cause habitat loss and pollution; computers and mobile phones require harmful mining procedures to harvest rare metals. But increasingly, ecologists and conservation biologists are asking whether we can use technology [...]

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Nice Flies Don’t Finish Last: Meiotic Drive and Sexual Selection in Stalk-Eyed Flies

Thu, 12 Jun 2014 15:54:47 +0000

While it might seem as though our genes are all working together for our own good, some of them are actually rather selfish. Scientists have known about ‘selfish genetic elements’ for nearly a century, but research to understand their behaviour and effects is ongoing. Recent research in GEE reveals how sexually selected traits are signalling [...]

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Dr Michal Malecki (Bahler Group) awarded prestigious Newton International Fellowship

15 January 2014

Michal Malecki

Dr Michal Malecki has recently secured a prestigious Newton International Fellowship which is jointly run by The British Academy and the Royal Society. This postdoctoral fellowship is to work on the function of cytoplasmic non-canonical RNA polymerases in fission yeast.

Non-canonical RNA polymerases (ncPAPs) modify RNA molecules by adding nucleotides to their 3’-ends without the need of a starter or template. Modifications catalyzed by ncPAPs have different consequences on RNA fate: they can destabilize and rapidly degrade transcripts, but they can also stabilize transripts, facilitate processing steps, or regulate translation ability. The ability to modify pre-existing RNAs makes ncPAPs ideal candidates for shaping the transcriptome at a post-transcriptional level.


The role of ncPAPs in RNA metabolism has recently started to be investigated. There are still many unsolved questions, most notably concerning the function of ncPAPs in the cytoplasm. In humans, cytoplasmic ncPAPs investigated so far affect cellular differentiation, senescence, synaptic plasticity, aging, and may be important in tumor suppression. The human genome codes for seven potential ncPAPs, with functions in both the cytoplasm and nucleus. The genome of fission yeast (Schizosaccharomyces pombe) encodes six potential ncPAPs, which makes it a highly attractive organism to investigate the functions of these intriguing proteins.


Four out of six S. pombe ncPAPs localise in the cytoplasm or both in the nucleus and cytoplasm. To study the function of these four cytoplasmic ncPAPs, we will apply multiple genetic, genomic and biochemical approaches, and then integrate the resulting data for insight into general biological principles.

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