UCL Division of Biosciences


GEE Seminar - Dr Patricia Sanchez-Baracaldo, University of Bristol

11 January 2023, 12:00 pm–1:00 pm


Title: 'Early primary producers – an evolutionary perspective'

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni




Amy Godfrey


Roberts Building

Academic Host: John Allen
Abstarct: Primary producers transform light energy from the sun into chemical energy in the form of sugars. This fundamental process has enabled life on Earth. Once ancestral cyanobacteria evolved, they played a fundamental role in Earth’s history by enabling the rise of atmospheric oxygen paving the way for complex life. The origins of photosynthesis are still not well understood. I will give an overview about key evolutionary events in the history of Cyanobacteria: 1) the Archean origin of PSII (the photochemical reaction centre that catalyses the light-driven oxidation of water to molecular oxygen), 2) the origin of the crown group of Cyanobacteria, 3) the emergence of filamentous forms around the Great Oxidation Event (2.32 Ga), and 4) the late emergence of marine planktonic groups between 800-600 Mya.  Molecular evolution analyses overall show that there is a huge lag between the Archean origin of oxygenic photosynthesis and planktonic forms at the end of the Precambrian. By studying the ‘genomic record’ we can now unravel how oxygenic phototrophs co-evolved with the Earth’s biosphere, thereby making our planet habitable. 

About the Speaker

Dr Patricia Sanchez-Baracaldo

Royal Society University Research Fellow and Reader at University of Bristol

Patricia Sanchez-Baracaldo is currently a Royal Society University Research Fellow and Reader in Microbiology at Bristol University. She did her PhD in plant evolutionary biology in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. As a postdoctoral researcher, Patricia worked on the molecular ecology of Cyanobacteria at Bristol University. She was awarded a Daphne Jackson and a Dorothy Hodgkin Royal Society Fellowships in 2011 after a career break. Patricia is currently part of the Rosalind Franklin Award Committee at the Royal Society. Her research interests include photosynthesis, biogeochemical cycles, climate change, microbial comparative genomics, and evolutionary biology.  

More about Dr Patricia Sanchez-Baracaldo