FISHing for the ancestors of the eukaryotic cell

Kasper Urup Kjeldsen recieves 2 million from The VILLUM Experiment to pursue his exceptional research idea

2017.08.01 | Maj Thimm Carlsen

This 2 year project will explore the earliest evolution of the eukaryotic cell by investigating the cellular ultrastructure of its extant prokaryotic ancestors. The project is focused on a group of uncultivated archaea, which were recently discovered in the seafloor, and which represent the closest prokaryotic relatives of eukaryotes. Based on environmental genomics data we hypothesize that these archaea possess a eukaryotic-type cytoskeleton and membrane trafficking systems - if confirmed by microscopic ultrastructure analyses this would dramatically change our definition of the prokaryotic cell and our understanding of the early evolution of eukaryotes. Microscopic studies of these archaea are however challenged by the fact that they have not been cultivated. Therefore we will develop a novel cultivation-independent technique that allows us to target and physically isolate the cells from the sediment for subsequent microscopic analyses. 

The VILLUM Experiment has been awarded for the first time to a number of researchers at Danish universities. The VILLUM Experiment supports unique research ideas "that challenges the norm and has the potential to fundamentally change the way we approach important topics." 

Read more about the grants, the recipients and the programme on VILLUM Experiment’s website here.

Center for Geomicrobiology