Notice: This is an archived and unmaintained page. For current information, please browse

The Role of Chance in the Evolution of Early Life

Presenter: Irene Chen, University of California, Santa Barbara
When: May 18, 2015 1PM PDT

The origin of life is believed to have progressed through an RNA World, in which RNA acted as both genetic material and functional molecules. Understanding early evolution requires systematic knowledge of the relationship between RNA sequence and fitness, as well as environmental effects. In particular, knowing the structure of the fitness landscape of RNA is critical to estimating the probability of the emergence of functional sequences and the role of historical accident during evolution. Much theoretical work has been devoted to fitness landscapes, but experimental maps have been relatively limited. The Chen lab uses in vitro selection on a pool of short RNA sequences that nearly saturates sequence space to reconstruct the form of a comprehensive fitness landscape. They also consider how spatial structure affects the degree to which chance determines evolutionary outcomes.

NAI Director's Seminar Series

  • The Director’s Seminar series features talks from scientists who are invited by the NAI Director to present their research results to the community. A primary goal of the seminars is to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration across NAI teams and within the astrobiology community at large.
  • Subscribe to this series

Other Seminars in this Series