From agriculture to urbanization to invasive species, humans have created novel evolutionary challenges for organisms across the globe. Perhaps one of the most widespread of these challenges is climate change, which pushes organisms past their physiological limits and can result in population decline or local extinction. With the increasing ease of genome sequencing in natural populations, genetic variation associated with climate has been uncovered in a wide variety of systems.
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Genetics and Genomics
Members of the Archaea (the third domain of life) that can produce methane are referred to as methanogens. These organisms are prevalent in a wide range of anoxic environments, including the human distal gut, and account for 75 to 80 percent of the annual methane emissions on our planet. Therefore methanogens have significant implications for climate science, biotechnology and even aspects of human health. Despite their importance, the physiology and evolution of methanogens is still poorly understood.
Asymmetric cell division is a fundamental mechanism to diversify cell fates. Adult stem cells often divide asymmetrically to generate one stem cell and one differentiating cell to maintain tissue homeostasis. Non-random sister chromatid segregation has been proposed as a potential mechanism utilized by stem cells to protect the genome from mutations or to confer distinct epigenetic information to daughter cells. However, the underlying mechanisms or the biological significance of such a phenomenon has never been directly demonstrated.