Session September 2022: "Giant bacteria and the evolution of eukaryotes"

  Talks  "The role of mitochondrial energetics in  the origin and diversification of eukaryotes" and "Thiomargarita magnifica, the largest bacterium ever observed is a complex macroscopic single-cell" In our September Forum on "Giant bacteria and the evolution of eukaryotic cells", Sergio Muñoz-Gómez presented theoretical predictions of feasible cell sizes for bacteria and eukaryotes, which he had recently published with our panel discussant Paul Schavemaker. Their work concerns limits on cells size that are relevant for eukaryote evolution and our understanding of the role of mitochondria (both as carriers of DNA and as a powerful source of “cheap” energy via respiration). As a concrete case that both challenges and confirms the theory, Jean-Marie Volland presented the recently discovered giant bacteria Thiomargarita magnifica, which are up to 2 centimeters long and can have 500.000 copies of their DNA. Sergio’s and Paul’s work refers to a 2010 paper “The

Session April 2022: “Economic theory and models”

  Talks “Economics methodologies” by Karl Schlag and “Cybersocialism” by Jan Philipp Dapprich Our April 2022 Forum session was devoted to economics and its possible connections to cell models. Karl Schlag, from the Department of Economics at the University of Vienna, introduced basic concepts used in economic theory and modeling approaches, many of which may find some future application to model cellular behaviors. Then, Jan Philipp Dapprich, from the Philosophy Department of the Free University Berlin, told us about planned economies and presented an economic model that closely resembles Flux Balance Analysis models. Karl gave a comprehensive overview of the main mathematical concepts and some central theorems in economics. He first distinguished between a normative and a positive perspective. An individual’s preferences and choices are described by a personal utility function, a function whose existence is guaranteed under very general conditions by the von Neumann–Morgenstern theore

Session March 2022: Cell economic principles in Synthetic Biology

Talk “Cell economics: the interplay between growth and gene expression in bacteria” by Jose Jimenez. Today we were joined by Jose Jimenez, senior lecturer in Synthetic Biology at the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London. The group of Dr. Jimenez focuses on the connection between synthetic biology and evolution, especially as applied to understanding the tradeoffs involved in gene expression. They have more recently been using principles of economics to investigate this interplay, and today Jose Jimenez shared his group’s application of these strategies to bacterial model systems. The talk began with the description of a paradigm familiar to any synthetic biologist - the classic “design-build-test” cycle. A typical implementation of this cycle could involve first designing a genetic circuit, assembling it and integrating it into a living system (e.g. a bacterium), and finally iterating on its design by testing its performance. This structure forms the basis for integra