Graduate student Liam Friar won a best poster prize at the recent European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) conference on "The cellular mechanics of symbiosis” held in Heidelberg, Germany (Mar 8-11, 2023). Liam traveled to the conference on a travel grant from the department.
Title of the poster: "In the cyanobacterial endosymbiont of Azolla ferns, Trichormus azollae, we infer purifying selection acting on both nitrogen fixation and photosynthesis"
"We are using a combination of genomics, gas flux and isotope fractionation experiments, and in silico modeling to understand how carbon and nitrogen metabolism have evolved in this symbiosis since the system became symbiotic. This could improve our understanding of the mechanisms behind how photosynthesis has evolved in plant chloroplasts, and the history of the million year long middle Eocene Azolla Event, during which seasonal blooms of Azolla on the Arctic Ocean are hypothesized to have sequestered enough carbon through photosynthesis to contribute to global climate cooling, initiating the greenhouse to icehouse shift."
ABOVE: A model of carbon, nitrogen, and energy moving between the environment and symbiotic partners.