11th Croatian Biological Congress 11th Croatian Biological Congress 11th Croatian Biological Congress 11th Croatian Biological Congress 11th Croatian Biological Congress 11th Croatian Biological Congress 11th Croatian Biological Congress 11th Croatian Biological Congress 11th Croatian Biological Congress 11th Croatian Biological Congress 11th Croatian Biological Congress 11th Croatian Biological Congress 11th Croatian Biological Congress
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Plenarni predavači / Plenary Speakers


Tomislav Domazet-Lošo
Laboratory of Evolutionary Genetics, Ruđer Bošković Institute, Zagreb
Tomislav Domazet-Lošo

Tomislav Domazet-Lošo holds a research position at the Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb, Croatia. He is interested in the macroevolutionary dynamics at all levels of biological hierarchy. His recent work focuses on the evolutionary origin of tumors, correlations between ontogeny and phylogeny, and origin of novel genes. He received his doctorate from the University of Cologne and undertook postdoctoral studies at the Max-Planck Institut for Evolutionary Biology in Plön and the University of Kiel, all in Germany. He received the Croatian Genetic Society prize for the development of the phylostratigraphic approach.

A phylostatigraphic approach to Evo-Devo questions

A comparative analysis of expression data of key developmental genes in animals is the common qualitative approach in evolutionary-developmental studies. However, accumulation of large datasets generated by high throughput screens opened possibility for qualitative-to-quantitative shift in the analysis of expression data. An example of qualitative approach is phylostratigraphic analysis of large expression datasets, where evolutionary origin of genes and their spatio-temporal expression is bundled and statistically scrutinized with an aim to find signatures of the origin and adaptive changes in a phenotype of interest. Within this framework I will present how microarray, RNAseq and in situ hybridization expression data in animals, fungi, plants and bacteria where harnessed in quests for evolutionary footprints of ontogeny-phylogeny correlations, origin of organ systems, multicellularity and cancer.


Zdravko Lorković
PMF Zagreb & Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology Austrian Academy of Science, Vienna
Zdravko Lorković

RNA-directed DNA methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana

Zdravko J. Lorkovic, Antonius Matzke, Marjori Matzke
Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology Austrian Academy of Science, Vienna, Austria

RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) is a small RNA-mediated epigenetic modification that is highly developed in flowering plants. To identify mutants in RdDM a two-component transgene silencing system (target and silencer) was used for forward genetic screen1. This and other forward genetic screens in Arabidopsis thaliana have revealed that RdDM requires a complex machinery that includes two plant-specific, RNA polymerase II-related RNA polymerases, called Pol IV and Pol V, chromatin remodeling proteins, and other novel, plant-specific proteins whose functions in the RdDM mechanism remain poorly understood2-4. An overview of mutants identified in our screen and their function in RdDM will be presented.

1 Kanno et al., (2008) Nat. Genet. 40:670-5.
2 Haag and Pikaard (2011) Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. 12:483-92.
3 He et al., (2011) Cell Res. 21:442-465.
4 Matzke et al., (2009) Curr. Opin. Cell Biol. 21:367-376.


William Martin
Institute of Molecular Evolution, University of Düsseldorf
William Martin

Hydrothermal vents and the origin of biochemistry: Bringing rocks to life

The chemistry of life is the chemistry of reduced organic compounds, therefore all theories for the origin of life have to offer testable hypotheses to account for the source of these compounds. The most well-known theories for the origin of organic compounds are based on the notion of an organic soup that was generated either by lightning-driven reactions in the Earth s early atmosphere or by delivery of organic compounds to the Earth from space. When submarine hydrothermal vents were discovered 30 years ago, hypotheses on the source of life s reduced carbon started to change. Submarine hydrothermal vents are geochemically reactive habitats that harbour rich microbial communities. The chemistry of the H2-CO2 redox couple that is present in hydrothermal systems has striking parallels with the core energy metabolic reactions of some modern prokaryotic autotrophs (methanogens and acetogens), whose biochemistry might, in turn, harbour clues about the kinds of reactions that initiated the chemistry of life. Hydrothermal vents sit at the evolutionary interface between geology and microbiology and to breathe new life into research into one of biology's most significant questions: the transition from CO2, rocks and water to living things.


Ivan Mijaković
Ivan Mijaković

Bacterial signalling networks: the systems biology perspective

Protein phosphorylation on histidine, aspartate, serine, threonine and tyrosine is established as an important regulatory mechanism in bacteria. A growing number of studies employing mass spectrometry-based proteomics report large protein phosphorylation datasets, providing precise evidence for in vivo phosphorylation of key bacterial proteins. These results have stimulated a number of follow-up studies, focusing on structural, functional and physiological consequences of individual phosphorylation events. However, protein phosphorylation pathways emerge as large and interconnected networks, involving mutually activating protein kinases, kinases acting as network nodes by phosphorylating different substrates, and cross-talk of phosphorylation with other post-translational modifications. The complexity of these networks clearly necessitates the use of systems biology approaches. We argue that the next challenge in the field will be the large-scale detection of protein kinase and phosphatase substrates and their integration into regulatory networks of the bacterial cell. Phosphoproteomics represents the basis for detection of phosphoproteins and phosphorylation sites, but it must be combined with transcriptomics and interactomics, and classical bottom-up approaches in any credible attempt to build in silico phosphorylation networks. The integrated systems biology approach to charting phosphorylation networks will be illustrated by the case of Bacillus subtilis, the Firmicute model organism.


Patrik Nosil
University of Sheffield
Patrik Nosil

Ecological and Genomic basis of Species Formation

My primary research focuses on the evolutionary processes driving and constraining the formation of new species (speciation). In particular, I am interested in the role of adaptation to new ecological environments, via natural selection, in the speciation process. Related interests concern the impact of natural selection on genomic divergence, predator-prey interactions, and macro-evolutionary patterns of character evolution. Various data are used to address these topics, including field observations, manipulative field experiments, laboratory experiments, and molecular data from next-generation DNA sequencing. The molecular work spans a range of sub-disciplines, including evolutionary genetics, population genetics, population genomics, and phylogenetics. I also aim to combine and integrate these empirical studies with theoretical work and comparative analyses. My research has focused on host-plant adaptation and speciation of herbivorous insects (particularly Timema walking-stick insects in California), although I have also worked with freshwater stickleback fishes and am interested in exploring non-insect systems.


William Symondson
Cardiff University
William Symondson

What do predators have for breakfast? The use of PCR and next generation sequencing to analyse the diets of invertebrates and vertebrates in the field

Professor William O.C. Symondson of Cardiff University is internationally recognised for his work on the dynamics of predator-prey interactions and how predators make choices between competing prey species. Most of his work has been on invertebrates in arable crops centred upon two trophic interactions: carabid beetles vs. slugs, and linyphiid spiders vs. aphids. A major interest has been in how non-pest prey affects predator-target prey interactions.  He was amongst the first to realise the potential of PCR to amplify prey DNA from field-caught predators and is at the forefront of developments in this field. Recently he has started using next generation sequencing to look at the complete diets of predators. Other related work includes phlyogenetics (earthworms, molluscs, planthoppers), intraguild predation, scavenging, vertebrate diets (reptiles, birds, bats, shrews), microarthropods predating nematodes and spider responses to insect vibrational communication signals.

Prof Symondson is Editor in Chief of the Bulletin of Entomological Research and an Associate Editor of Molecular Ecology.


Iva M. Tolić-Nørrelykke
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG), Dresden
Iva M. Tolić Norrelykke

Iva Tolić-Nørrelykke studied molecular biology at the University of Zagreb, where she also got her PhD in biomathematics. For her PhD, she examined the cytoskeleton as a tensegrity structure at the Harvard School of Public Heath in Boston. During her postdoctoral trainings in experimental biophysics at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen and at the University of Florence, she used laser cutting and optical tweezers on cell organelles and the cytoskeleton. Iva is now a group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden. Her lab explores how microtubules and motor proteins create the dynamic interior design of the cell.

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