Motoo Kimura Lifetime Contribution Award

This award is intended for outstanding senior members of the SMBE community.  The primary criterion is a record of truly outstanding research that has contributed broadly to the field of Molecular Biology and Evolution.  The prize includes recognition at the annual SMBE banquet, a cash prize of $2000 and a travel award to attend the annual meeting.  This award will be made annually and initiated by the SMBE council.


2016 SMBE Motoo Kimura Lifetime Contribution Award Winner:
Nancy Moran

Nancy Moran’s long-term interests are in the evolution of biological complexity, such as that apparent in complex life histories, in intimate interactions among species and in species-diversity of clades and communities. Her research has focused extensively on symbiosis, particularly between multicellular hosts and microbes.  In her storied career, she has demonstrated ancient coevolution between aphids and their plant hosts, and has characterized mutualistic symbiotic interactions between aphids and Buchnera bacteria and between other insect and symbiont clades. She found that these mutualisms are ancient, dating to the origins of major insect clades, and that the long term vertical transmission of the bacterial symbionts has caused extreme genome degradation and shrinkage. Her ongoing projects include phylogenetic and genomic studies of previously unstudied insect symbioses, experiments on gene expression of symbionts within hosts, computational reconstruction of the content and arrangement of genes in bacterial ancestors, and experimental investigations of coevolved gut communities within social bees. She has previously been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship and the International Prize for Biology, and has been a member of that National Academy of the Sciences since 2004.  She is currently the Leslie Surginer Endowed Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas, Austin.  


Award Information

Eligibility: Awardees are likely to be at least 25 years past their doctoral degrees. Members of the SMBE Council are not eligible for any awards during their years on council or in the year immediately following their service.

Nomination:  Nomination will be an open process that begins with a call to SMBE members, typically early in the calendar year.

All nominations will include:

  • A nomination letter that includes a recommendation for the candidate.

  • A one-page statement summarizing the candidate’s work and its fit to the award. 
  • A CV of the candidate.  
  • A second recommendation letter

Process:  The President will convene an awards committee that will choose among those nominated.  It may also choose not to award the prize if no suitable candidates are nominated.

 

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Pan troglodytes (P. t.) troglodytes and P. t. verus.

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Chaetoceros, Cyclotella, Discostella, or Nitzschia. It has been speculated that serial replacement of diatom-derived chloroplasts by other diatoms has caused this diversity of chloroplasts. Although previous work suggested that the endosymbionts of Nitzschia origin might not be monophyletic, this has not been seriously investigated. To infer the number of replacements of diatom-derived chloroplasts in dinotoms, we analyzed the phylogenetic affinities of 14 species of dinotoms based on the endosymbiotic rbcL gene and SSU rDNA, and the host SSU rDNA. Resultant phylogenetic trees revealed that six species of Nitzschia were taken up by eight marine dinoflagellate species. Our phylogenies also indicate that four separate diatom species belonging to three genera were incorporated into the five freshwater dinotoms. Particular attention was paid to two crucially closely related species, Durinskia capensis and a novel species, D. kwazulunatalensis, because they possess distantly related Nitzschia species. This study clarified that any of a total of at least 11 diatom species in five genera are employed as an endosymbiont by 14 dinotoms, which infers a more frequent replacement of endosymbionts in the world of dinotoms than previously envisaged.

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Single-Copy Genes as Molecular Markers for Phylogenomic Studies in Seed Plants

2017-05-01

<span class="paragraphSection">Phylogenetic relationships among seed plant taxa, especially within the gymnosperms, remain contested. In contrast to angiosperms, for which several genomic, transcriptomic and phylogenetic resources are available, there are few, if any, molecular markers that allow broad comparisons among gymnosperm species. With few gymnosperm genomes available, recently obtained transcriptomes in gymnosperms are a great addition to identifying single-copy gene families as molecular markers for phylogenomic analysis in seed plants. Taking advantage of an increasing number of available genomes and transcriptomes, we identified single-copy genes in a broad collection of seed plants and used these to infer phylogenetic relationships between major seed plant taxa. This study aims at extending the current phylogenetic toolkit for seed plants, assessing its ability for resolving seed plant phylogeny, and discussing potential factors affecting phylogenetic reconstruction. In total, we identified 3,072 single-copy genes in 31 gymnosperms and 2,156 single-copy genes in 34 angiosperms. All studied seed plants shared 1,469 single-copy genes, which are generally involved in functions like DNA metabolism, cell cycle, and photosynthesis. A selected set of 106 single-copy genes provided good resolution for the seed plant phylogeny except for gnetophytes. Although some of our analyses support a sister relationship between gnetophytes and other gymnosperms, phylogenetic trees from concatenated alignments without 3rd codon positions and amino acid alignments under the CAT + GTR model, support gnetophytes as a sister group to Pinaceae. Our phylogenomic analyses demonstrate that, in general, single-copy genes can uncover both recent and deep divergences of seed plant phylogeny.</span>