Maria Svensson Coelho

Maria Svensson Coelho

Research Engineer

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Research

I am part of a team led by Charlie Cornwallis that aims at understanding the mechanisms underlying the transition from uni- to multicellularity. We use the volvocine green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and relatives as our study system. C. reinhardtii, a unicellular photosynthesizing protist, is the simpler sister to more complex volvocine algae. Gonium spp., for example, form colonies of undifferentiated cells whereas Volvox spp. exhibit cell differentiation. Interestingly, Chlamydomonas, despite being unicellular, has demonstrated the capacity to form colonies in the lab. Taking an experimental approach, whereby we induce colony-formation in Chlamydomonas, we hope to be able to identify genomic regions involved in the transition. In addition, we continuously conduct field sampling for a better understanding of volvocine ecology. Finally, evolutionary relationships among uni- and multicellular taxa in this group are far from resolved; thus, a major part of my work revolves around reconstructing multi-gene phylogenies of the volvocine algae.

I began working with green algae at Lund University in 2017. Before that, my research centered around avian malaria. I have, for example, examined how community dynamics of the avian malaria system varies geographically, how host phylogeographic structure relates to that of their malaria parasites, and what host and ecological factors influence host specificity of parasites.

Keywords

  • Multicellularity
  • Phylogenetics
  • Chlamydomonas

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