skip to primary navigationskip to content

Informal seminar - Matti Jalasvuori : Does the temperature-dependent biophysics of protein folding contribute to latitude-dependent patterns of global species diversity?

When Oct 10, 2017
from 02:00 PM to 03:00 PM
Where Genetics Part II Room
Add event to calendar vCal
Matti Jalasvuori is an Academy of Finland Research Fellow at the University of Jyvaskyla, who is visiting the Illingworth group this term.  He will give an informal seminar on his work at 2pm next Tuesday, 11th October in the Part II Room.  All would be welcome to attend.
With best regards,
Does the temperature-dependent biophysics of protein folding contribute to latitude-dependent patterns of global species diversity?
Distribution of species across the globe shows strong latitudinal and altitudinal gradients with the number of species decreasing with declining temperatures. While the gradients have been recognized already over a century, the explanations so-far have been somewhat elusive. Interestingly, the nature of physical forces between biomolecules and water makes biomolecules most stable around 20°C and decreases as temperature either decreases or increases. This is due to hydrophobic effect, the main force driving protein folding, which is maximum at this temperature. At low temperatures, proteins have evolved to be flexible but unstable in response to slow molecular movements. On the other hand, at high temperatures, proteins have countered the susceptibly to heat denaturation by forming strong intra-protein interactions. In both temperature regimes, non-synonymous mutations are more likely to disrupt the protein's functionality than mutations in milder ambient temperature. Decreased mutational robustness at temperatures deviating from maximal hydrophobic force will slow down molecular evolution, as a larger fraction of new mutations will be removed by selection. Given that speciation requires the evolution of epistatic incompatibilities that prevent gene flow among incipient species, slow rate of molecular evolution at more extreme temperatures will directly slow down the rate at which new species arise. In this presentation, I present the hypothesis, compare it to other (mutually non-exclusive) explanations and suggest potential experiments to evaluate its validity.
Host : Chris Illingworth