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2016 Conference Photo
Like our Homo sapien forebears we still hanker to know where we come from and whether there is life elsewhere in the Universe, however, the landscape of the emergence of life has always been mind-bogglingly complex with definitive answers proving elusive. With the advent of new techniques in the fields of phylogenetics and phylogenomics;systems and synthetics biology; comparative and meta-genomics; and bio-informatics, as well as improved methods in the detection of microRNAs within cellular life forms and species of viruses, we are beginning to peel back the layers of the metaphoric onion of life’s origins. In this endeavour,we hope to unearth the tweaking of LUCA’s genetics before it developed into the 3 domains of life as recognised today. LUCA is hypothesised to be an almost fully cellular organism within a cellular boundary and with DNA as its code carrier, however, it is suggested that prior to LUCA there was another organism having a cellular boundary, but which had RNA as the code carrier; this organism is known as preLUCA. Viruses were also present at the same time as these entities and they are thought to be instrumental in the fine-tuning of LUCA’s genetics. This fine-tuning was carried out via the process of horizontal gene transfer (HGT). We will explore various aspects of preLUCA, LUCA as well as virus connections via HGT and hope to go some way to unlocking the mysteries that led to the emergence of the 3 domains of life.

Nor HGT 2016 Conference Poster
Dr Sohan Jheeta shown here with the recipients of his NoR HGT & LUCA travel award for their attendance at the 2016 conference
Network of Researchers on Horizontal Gene Transfer and Last Universal Common Ancestor | HGT | LUCA | RNA | Origin of Life | Viruses | DNA
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