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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Dr Nick Lane

Thinking About Emergence Public Lecture - The Improbable Emergence of Complex Life

23rd February 2015, 18:15 to 19:15, Kingsley Barrett Room, Calman Learning Centre, Lower Mountjoy, Dr Nick Lane (University College London)


All complex (eukaryotic) life on Earth shares a common ancestor that arose just once in 4 billion years of evolution. All eukaryotes share a large number of complex morphological traits, from the nucleus to sex, none of which are known in any prokaryote. Dr Nick Lane will argue that eukaryotes emerged from a cellular chimera, in which a bacterial host cell engulfed another bacterium, the ancestor of mitochondria. He will discuss the singularity of eukaryotic origins, and why mitochondria enabled the evolution of enormous genomic complexity, while simultaneously forcing the evolution of so many curious eukaryotic traits. 


Dr Nick Lane is Reader in Evolutionary Biochemistry in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London. Nick’s research deals with bioenergetics, focusing on the origin of life and the evolution of complex cells. He was a founding member of the UCL Consortium for Mitochondrial Research, and leads the UCL Research Frontiers Origins of Life programme. He will receive the 2015 Biochemical Society Award for his sustained and diverse contribution to the molecular life sciences and the public understanding of science. He is the author of four acclaimed books on evolution, one of which, Life Ascending, won the Royal Society Prize for Science Books in 2010.

Map – The Calman Learning Centre is denoted at building number: 43.

Contact for more information about this event.