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Frank Rosenzweig, Ph.D.

NAI Principal Investigator
Professor of Biology School of Biological Sciences

Research Summary:

Research in the Rosenzweig lab is aimed at illuminating the evolution of complex traits that augment biodiversity, control cell lifespan, and drive major transitions in the history of life. Our goals are to understand how changes in genome architecture alter global patterns of gene expression, whether such changes explain the physiology and behavior of novel genotypes, and the extent to which adaptation is shaped by trade-offs and constraints. Because all major evolutionary transitions require cooperative behavior, we are especially keen to discover genetic changes that promote this trait. Our approach to these goals is experimental evolutionary genomics using as models the bacteria Escherichia coli and Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus, the Bakers yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and the unicellular alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. With new and continuing funding from NASA, NIH, and the Templeton Foundation we are addressing six fundamental questions.

(1) How does a community arise from a single clone? (2) How did the eukaryotic cell, specifically the cell that had a mitochondrion, come to be? (3) How does multicellularity arise? (4) What is the true rate of beneficial mutation – and how pervasive are the pleiotropic effects of those mutations? (5) How might severe stress favor the emergence of new species. (6) What controls the lifespan of a eukaryotic cell?