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Sex Differentiation Begins During Early Development

Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:04:57 +0000

Males and females look different from each other, and these sexual dimorphisms are the result, largely, of sex differences in the expression of certain genes. Typically, scientists have studied sexual dimorphism in sexually mature adult animals, as this is the lifestage where differences are most apparent. However, many sex-specific phenotypes arise from sex-biased development, so […]

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Extinction and Species Declines:Defaunation in the Anthropocene

Mon, 18 Aug 2014 10:35:52 +0000

We are in the grips of a mass extinction. There have been mass extinctions throughout evolutionary history, what makes this one different is that we’re the ones causing it. A recent review paper from GEE’s Dr Ben Collen discusses the current loss of biodiversity and suggests that our main concerns are species and population declines, […]

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Defaunation in the Anthropocene
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Evolving Endemism in East Africa’s Sky Islands

Fri, 08 Aug 2014 14:16:32 +0000

The World’s biodiversity is not evenly distributed. Some regions are hot spots for species richness, and biologists have been trying better to understand why these regions are special and what drives evolution and diversification. A recent paper by GEE’s Dr Julia Day and recent PhD graduate Dr Siobhan Cox, investigated the diversification of White-Eye Birds […]

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Predicting Extinction Risk:The Importance of Life History and Demography

Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:46:17 +0000

The changing climate is no longer simply a concern for the future, it is a reality. Understanding how the biodiversity that we share our planet with will respond to climate change is a key step in developing long-term strategies to conserve it. Recent research by UCL CBER’s Dr Richard Pearson identifies the key characteristics that […]

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The Importance of Life History and Demography
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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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Evolutionary Distinctiveness and Conservation Priorities
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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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