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Mr Nathan Chrismas

Evolution of cyanobacteria in the cryosphere

I'm fascinated by evolutionary processes as a whole, at both organismal and molecular levels. In particular I'm interested in how environmental variability due to geography, climate and nutrient availability can lead to adaptation and diversification.

My current research interests lie with the cyanobacteria, photosynthetic microorganisms that are a fundamental component of the earth system. Cyanobacteria are key players in both the carbon and nitrogen cycles and are presumed responsible for the initial oxygenation of the earth's atmosphere.

During my PhD I'll be carrying out a comprehensive evolutionary study of cyanobacteria adapted to living in cold environments. I'll be asking how cyanobacteria in glacial ecosystems worldwide are related to each other, and how lineages have diversifed during periods of widespread glaciation related to global climate cycles, reaching all the way back to neoproterozoic 'Snowball Earth'.  I'll also be looking at specific adaptations to living in the cold and how their genes might be shared between cyanobacterial taxa.

Research keywords

  • Evolution
  • Adaptation
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Phylogeography
  • Phylogenomics