Biology

Biology at Uppsala University Starts Youtube Channel

To highlight the young researchers in biology at Uppsala University, we have filmed 3-minute research presentations, originally held at the Biology day 2016. Today a handful of films are released (check them out below) and more are in the making. "With all the great research being done in Biology, it will not be hard at all to provide new video's regularly", says Dean of Biology Hanna Johannesson. So stay tuned for more video's from UU Biology.


Torsten Günther, researcher at the Department of Organismal Biology, Evolution and developmental biology

Scandinavia was one of the last parts of Europe that humans colonized after the last ice age. By analyzing DNA extracted from Stone Age human remains, Torsten Günther and colleagues traced the migrations of these early Scandinavians and made inferences on the appearance of these people.

The study hasn't been published in a journal yet, but a preprint is available: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2017/07/30/164400


Alexander Suh, postdoctoral research fellow at Department of Ecology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology

Why do spruce trees have seven times as much DNA as we do? What do transposons and chain letters have in common? How do transposons move between genomes?
 
In this short video, Alexander Suh summarises his research on transposons, viruses, and animal genomes. You can find out more on his lab website (www.ieg.uu.se/evolutionary-biology/suh/) and on Twitter (twitter.com/alexander_suh).
 
Just in case you are up for more silly metaphors, check out his interview in the Slightly Evolved Podcast (soundcloud.com/slightlyevolvedpod/episode-1-genomic-parasites).


Laura Gunn, researcher at Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Molecular Biophysics

Nature’s carbon fixing machine, “Rubisco”, is slow and clumsy, often limiting the growth rate of plants and biofuel-producing algae. For decades, researchers have tried to design a better Rubisco, but progress has been slow and limited because Rubisco is a complicated machine.
In nature, however, there exists significant variation in Rubisco structure and function, because different carbon-fixing machines have evolved in a diverse range of organisms. Laura Gunn thinks that we could harness some of the carbon-fixing solutions that nature has evolved. In the Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics, Laura salvages different components from these divergent carbon-fixing machines, and uses them to build more efficient Rubiscos.
See the article linked below to read about a new Rubisco component that Laura found in a microorganism from Antarctica, which could help simplify the Rubisco production process.


David Blaha-Nelson, PhD student at the Department of cell and molecular biology.

Serum Paraoxonase 1, or “PON1”, is a beta-propeller hydrolase found in the bloodstreams of all mammals. Though natively a lactonase, we study it for its ability to promiscuously hydrolyze many substrates, including man-made nerve toxins such paraoxon.
Substrates in PON1s active site are shielded from solvent molecules by a highly-disordered active site loop. When the loop closes over the active site, tyrosine 71’s hydroxyl group latches into the crucial hydrogen bond network.
By using in silico methods, we were able to study reactions of both paraoxon and TBBL for a series of mutations. In doing so, we were able to confirm and quantify tyrosine 71’s importance for excluding water from the active site and also show its effect on stabilizing the crucial hydrogen bond network.


Alina Mostovaya, PhD in Limnology (fresh water ecology).

Did you know that many lakes emit greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, in a similar way our industry does? Alina Mostovaya from the department of Limnology explains this phenomenon by telling us about remarkable transformations dead organic matter undergoes in lakes.


Sethu Gunja, PhD student at the Department of cell and molecular biology.

Telomere syndromes are a spectrum of inherited human developmental and degenerative disorders with telomere dysfunction. These are mainly caused by mutations in the genes encoding the components of telomerase or telomeres. Recently we found a telomere syndrome patient that has mutations in PARN gene. PARN is one of the major mRNA poly(A) tail degradation enzymes. In nucleus PARN is involved in the maturation of H/ACA type of snoRNAs, for example TERC. TERC/hTR is a RNA component in telomerase enzyme complex that acts as a template for telomere synthesis. Due to the deficiency of PARN activity in the patient, the levels of immature TERC RNA were significantly increased and telomeres are extremely short in the patient.
To study the development of the diseased state caused by mutations in PARN gene in the whole life span of an organism, a stable model system is required. For that we use CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing tool to introduce the mutations in PARN gene in a popular model organism zebrafish.


Daniel Tamarit, postdoc at the Department of cell and molecular biology.

Daniel Tamarit completed his PhD in October 2016 under the supervision of Siv Andersson at the program of Molecular Evolution[1]. As part of his thesis, Daniel, Siv and colleagues discovered that the genes of Lactobacillus kunkeei, a honeybee symbiont, are highly organised[2]. Through a follow up study, they have now revealed diverse evolutionary forces that shape and disrupt the gene organisation in multiple Lactobacillus species, and remind us of the dynamic nature of genome evolution.


Elin Einarsson, PhD student at the Department of cell and molecular biology.

The Giardia group at ICM are interested in learning more about the diplomonad parasites Giardia and Spironucleus. In my research I want to understand how the parasite Giardia intestinalis transforms from a motile stage to an infectious cyst stage, in particular in regards to how the process is regulated.


Dmytro Kryvokhyzha, PhD student at the Department of ecology and genetics.

The shepherd’s purse Capsella bursa-pastoris is one of the most common plant on Earth, but its diploid relatives aren’t: Capsella grandiflora is restricted to the mountains of Northern Greece and Albania, Capsella orientalis and Capsella rubella occur only in Central Asia and around the Mediterranean Sea, respectively. Our group tries to understand why it is so?


Hanna Johannesson, Dean of biology, comments: "The biology day was a great opportunity to see how much great science is being done, and to informally chat with colleagues. Having some of these presentations on-line is nice as a reach-out to society, but also to colleagues around the world."

The head of department of cell- and molecular biology, David van der Spoel, who organized the video shooting sessions, fills in: "It was really nice to see how professional these young researchers were when being filmed from close distance. Very instructive for them as well, a good media training indeed, that may very well help them in their careers"