DanStem Seminar by Morten Nørholm – University of Copenhagen

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DanStem Seminar by Morten Nørholm

Morten Nørholm, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability DTU.
Title: Transcriptional mutagenesis and an evolutionary toggle switch in ageing cells

Morten Nørholm is a  Senior Scientist and Research Group Leader at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability. He received his PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from University of Copenhagen, Denmark in 2004. For his PhD degree, he worked on heterologous gene expression and discovery in Matthias Hediger’s research group at Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA, and on plant genetics in Barbara Halkier’s group at the Faculty of Life Sciences, Copenhagen University. From 2008 to 2011 he worked with fundamental aspects of membrane protein insertion and topology as a postdoctoral researcher in Gunnar von Heijne’s research group at the Stockholm Center for Biomembrane Research. Morten's research group focuses on developing molecular tools for synthetic biology and on optimizing expression of membrane proteins in microbial cell factories.

Some of his recent work developing technology has led Morten to speculate about the nature of mutation in evolution.  He will talk about work that suggests mutations can be induced revisiting the debate on The Luria–Delbrück experiment (1943).  This experiment (also called the Fluctuation Test) demonstrated that in bacteria, genetic mutations arise in the absence of selection, rather than being a response to selection.  This demonstration, that natural selection acts on random mutations was a part of the reason that Max Delbrück and Salvador Luria won the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.  Morton will revisit this question as he has recently uncovered evidence that favors adaptive (or induced) mutation, a Lamarckian view of evolution, that John Cairns controversially argued for in the 1990s.