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Room 202 Life Sciences Building C, Tempe Campus
Wednesday March 20th.
Wine and appetizers at 6:30pm. Program will begin at 7pm and conclude by 9pm.
This is a free event
The Center for Evolution and Medicine Seminar Series features George N. Somero, Professor Emeritus at Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University.
"Micromolecular Evolution: How the Cellular 'Soup' Evolves to Foster Macromolecular Function"
For most evolutionary biologists, molecular evolution means “genes and proteins.” This narrow focus neglects the critical roles played by evolution of the systems of small solutes — organic osmolytes, inorganic ions and protons — that establish the “working environment” for macromolecules. Study of adaptive modification of the types and concentrations of “micromolecules” in biological fluids provides deep insights into evolutionary processes in the context of adaptation to extreme environments and into the physiological changes that promote homeostasis.
Somero's career has focused on the physiological and biochemical adaptations that allow organisms to function in widely different physical environments. Much of his work has examined influences of extremes of temperature, a focus that probably reflects growing up in icy northeastern Minnesota. After graduating from Carleton College, he went to Stanford University for his doctoral work. After a year in balmy Palo Alto, he headed south to McMurdo Station in Antarctica and began his doctoral work on cold-adapted fishes.
Over the years he has elucidated how proteins evolve in different species to function optimally over different ranges of temperature. Along the way, he learned that proteins do not “do this on their own”: adaptive changes in the types and concentrations of small solutes in the cell are needed to keep proteins working at their best. He has pursued these complementary lines of research — macromolecular and micromolecular evolution — at three universities: the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (1970-1991), Oregon State University (1991-1995) and Stanford University (1995-present).
His studies have examined a wide range of habitats, including the deep sea and rocky intertidal ecosystems and a broad array of animals. Currently, he is working with colleagues in China on what appear to be the world’s hottest animals: tiny snails that thrive at body temperatures near 55 degrees Celcius.