Membrane and Membrane Proteome Evolution Across the Tree of Life

Working with Stefano Pagliara and Alyson Santoro we are using a combination of environmental ‘omics, synthetic biology and manufactured vesicle-based experiments to understand the evolution of membrane traits and the function of distinct classes of membrane proteins. For example, we are developing new systems to study the membrane traits of synthetic proto-cells to explore the consequence of membrane transitions across the tree of life. This fits into one of our main wider themes, which focuses on the evolution of membrane transporter proteins and how that shapes microbial ecology.

Examples of our work in this area:

  • Milner DS, Attah V, Cook E, Maguire F, Savory FR, Morrison M, Müller CA, Foster PG, Talbot NJ, Leonard G. 2019. Environment-dependent fitness gains can be driven by horizontal gene transfer of transporter-encoding genes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116:5613-5622.
  • Monier A, Chambouvet A, Milner DS, Attah V, Terrado R, Lovejoy C, Moreau H, Santoro AE, Derelle É, Richards TA. 2017. Host-derived viral transporter protein for nitrogen uptake in infected marine phytoplankton. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114:E7489-E7498.
  • Richards TA, Massana R, Pagliara S, Hall N. 2019. Single cell ecology. Phil. Trans. Royal Society. B.
  • Richards TA, Talbot NJ. 2018. Osmotrophy. Current Biology 28:R1179-R1180.
  • Savory FR, Milner DS, Miles DC, Richards TA. 2018. Ancestral function and diversification of a horizontally acquired oomycete carboxylic acid transporter. Molecular Biology and Evolution 35:1887-1900.