CORDIS - EU research results

Uncovering and engineering the principles governing evolution and cellular control of bioenergetic organelles


"Complex life on Earth is powered by bioenergetic organelles -- mitochondria and chloroplasts. Originally independent organisms, these organelles have retained their own genomes (mtDNA and cpDNA), which have been dramatically reduced through evolutionary history. Organelle genomes form dynamic populations within present-day eukaryotic cells, akin to individuals co-evolving in a ""cellular ecosystem"". The structure of these populations is central to eukaryotic life. However, the processes shaping the content of these genomes through history, and maintaining their integrity in modern organisms, are poorly understood. This challenges our understanding of eukaryotic evolution and our ability to design rational strategies to engineer bioenergetic performance.

EvoConBiO will address these questions using a unique and unprecedented interdisciplinary approach, combining experimental characterisation and manipulation of organelle genomes with mathematical modelling and cutting-edge statistics. This highly novel combination of experiment and theory will drive the field in a new direction, for the first time uncovering the universal principles underlying the evolution and cellular control of mitochondria and chloroplasts. Our groundbreaking recent work on mtDNA suggests a common tension underlying organelle evolution, between genetic robustness (transferring genes to the nucleus) and the control and maintenance of organelles (retaining genes in organelles). EvoConBiO will reveal the pathways underlying organelle evolution, why organisms adapt to different points on these pathways, and how they resolve this underlying tension. In addition to these ""blue sky"" scientific insights into a process of central evolutionary importance, we will harness our findings to ""learn from evolution"" in high-risk high-reward development of new experimental strategies to engineer chloroplast performance in plants and algae of importance in EU agriculture, biofuel production, and bioengineering."

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 417 862,00
5020 Bergen

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Norge Vestlandet Vestland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 417 862,00

Beneficiaries (2)