18/01/2017 - 12:00 - Sala Marie Curie

How unicellular protists became multicellular animals? A general overview of our approaches to answer this question

Scientific sessions, CRG Group Leader Seminars

Iñaki Ruiz-Trillo

Department of Genetics, University of Barcelona. Multicell Genome Lab, Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC–UPF)

Short biography:
Iñaki Ruiz-Trillo is an ICREA Research Professor at the Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC-UPF) in Barcelona. His educational background includes a B.S. in Biology from the University of Barcelona followed by a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Barcelona in 2002. Funded by grants from EMBO and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, he completed a post-doctoral stage at Dalhousie University (Canada). He has also performed short term research stages at the US DOE Joint Genome Institute, the University of Arkansas and the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.

His current research interests include the origin of multicellular animals and the evolution of eukaryotes and complex life forms. In particular, by identifying which of the many protists are most closely related to metazoans, and then performing genomic and cell biological studies on these organisms, his work has given profound insights into the genes involved in evolving multicellularity and development. He has published more than 55 peer-reviewed articles and has lead several research projects, including 2 ERC grants. He is also currently leading the UNICORN consortium, an international project funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute to get the genome sequence of 12 different protists.


Talk abstract:
Have you even wondered how animals originated from single-celled ancestors? Have you heard about the Cambrian explosion? Or the so-called “metazoan genetic toolkit”? Do you believe we, animals, are so unique? Any idea how the unicellular ancestor of animals looked like morphologically or genetically?

In our lab we ask these questions to ourselves in a daily basis. In this talk I will provide a general overview of our research to address them. I will set up the importance of the question, explain our approaches to answer them, and sketch some of our major findings. I will then end the talk presenting a novel view on animal origins based in our 8 years research that challenges previous ideas.