Albert Shimmins Fellowship Lecture – Prof. Marco Polin

When: Thursday 3 May, 6:15-7:15pm, followed by refreshments

Where: JH Michell Theatre, Peter Hall Building

A quantitative view of swimming microorganisms

Microorganisms are the most abundant and diverse group of living organisms on the planet, and their activity underpins all major ecosystems. Many of these organisms, including bio technologically and medically relevant species, have evolved the ability to swim, move or crawl and are capable of adapting their motility in response to a variety of external stimuli (e.g. mechanical, chemical, light). Motility is currently believed to confer a selective advantage, especially in environments where nutrients are scarce and ephemeral, like most of the world’s oceans.

It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that a quantitative interdisciplinary approach is needed in order to understand active motion at the cellular scale, pulling together expertise from disciplines ranging from microbiology to physics, mathematics and engineering. Here,

Marco will review some of his work within this area, from microalgae coordinating their microscopic flagella to their ability to swim towards light, while trying to highlight what makes this a fascinating field for a physicist.

Assistant Professor Marco Polin received his PhD in 2007 from the Center for Soft Matter Research at New York University, on measurements of colloidal interactions using holographic optical tweezers (HOTs) and liquid structure theory. From 2007 to 2013 he worked in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) at the University of Cambridge, first as a Marie-Curie Fellow and then as an EPSRC Postdoctoral Fellow. He investigated eukaryotic flagellar dynamics, using micromanipulation and high-speed imaging of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and Volvox carteri. During these years at DAMTP, Marco combined experiments and modelling, and i) showed for the first time that flagellar synchronization results from an interplay between hydrodynamic forces and flagellar elasticity; ii) discovered the existence of (biochemical) flagellar beating noise; iii) showed that microalgae regulate flagellar coordination to achieve run-and-tumble-like locomotion; iv) discovered a novel model system to study metachronal waves and performed the most complete characterization of their dynamics; v) measured for the first time the flow field generated by freely swimming microorganisms. This research helped to establish Chlamydomonas as an important system in biophysics, and was recognised by the award of a Junior Research Fellowship at Clare Hall, Cambridge. In September 2013, Marco joined the Physics Department at the University of Warwick as a Lecturer, and built his experimental laboratory, continuing his work in the field of microbial fluid dynamics. Since 2017, Marco has been a Principal Investigator in the Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology at Warwick.



Prof Gene Tyson delivers Annual Biodiversity Lecture for School of BioSciences

Where: BioSciences 2, Turner Theatre

When: Tuesday 24th April 2018 at 12:00noon-1:00pm

Chairperson: Prof Linda Blackall

Expanding our view of the microbial world

Over the last decade, metagenomics has changed the face of microbial ecology. Metagenomics bypasses traditional culture-dependent approaches and holds the promise of genome-level insights into the mostly uncharted microbial world. My research team is applying metagenomic techniques to recover a large number of genomes from many previously uncultivated bacterial and archaeal lineages and from increasingly complex environments. This has greatly expanded our understanding of the metabolic capabilities of these microbes and challenges our understanding of the evolution of many of these processes.

Biography: Professor Gene Tyson (Deputy Director of the Australian Centre for Ecogenomics, University of Queensland) is a microbial ecologist who applies culture-independent molecular approaches to understand the structure and function of in situ microbial communities.

During his dissertation research, Professor Tyson led a landmark metagenomics study on the metabolic potential and population diversity of microbial communities involved in acid mine drainage generation. This demonstrated for the first time that metagenomic data could be used to reconstruct genomes directly from environmental samples.

Following his PhD, he sought more complex microbial communities on which to apply cutting-edge molecular tools. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2006-2009), he conducted postdoctoral research work aimed at understanding the composition, functional potential, regulation, and evolution of complex marine microbial communities at sites around the world’s oceans. A highlight of this research was the development of metatranscriptomics to investigate gene expression in microbial communities, which led to the discovery that marine microorganisms express a surprisingly large number of small RNAs. This has greatly improved our understanding of gene regulation in the marine environment and microbial communities in general.

The seminal research performed in the United States allowed Professor Tyson to return to Australia in May 2009 to start his own research group at the relatively young age of 31 at The University of Queensland (UQ). Professor Tyson’s group uses the metagenomic and metatranscriptomic approaches he helped pioneer to investigate microbial communities in a wide range of different habitats including both engineered systems and natural ecosystems. His research is primarily focused on exploring novel diversity with a special interest in microorganisms involved in methane cycling. He also has a strong interest in bioinformatics and his team actively develop new ways to analyse metagenomic, metatranscriptomic and single cell data.

EMRI scientist Professor Jill Banfield receives 2018 UK Microbiology Society Prize Medal

The Microbiology Society’s Prizes recognise excellence and are awarded to those making significant contributions in the field of microbiology, based on nominations received from the membership.

The 2018 Microbiology Society Prize Medal was awarded to EMRI’s Professor Jill Banfield. Jill investigates the diverse range of microbial communities living in different environments and has made huge contributions to the disciplines of microbiology, earth sciences and phylogeny.

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