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K-State Today

April 29, 2016

Harmit Malik to present on the evolutionary consequences of genetic conflicts April 29

By Sherry Haller

picture of Dr. Malik

Harmit Malik, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center will present "Genetic conflicts: the usual suspects and beyond" as part of the Division of Biology Seminar Series at 4 p.m. Friday, April 29, in 120 Ackert Hall.

Malik's lab is interested in the genetics of evolutionary conflicts and he studies rapidly evolving proteins as a hallmark of this kind of conflict. His lab is currently working on several projects — including centromeres and heterochromatin, nuclear import and variant histones, and innate defense strategies against retroviruses. The abstract for his seminar presentation is given below.

Malik's seminar presentation abstract: 

The cell has been traditionally viewed as an exquisitely designed symbiotic network of genes in co-evolutionary equilibrium. However, several fundamental features of our genes and genomes belie the expectation that they have reached an optimal functional state. Instead, a view is emerging that eukaryotic genomes harbor a conglomerate of different genetic entities, each with their own agenda and each locked in conflict with other genetic entities for evolutionary dominance. Malik's lab is interested in understanding two forms of genetic conflict: intrinsic — within genome — conflicts that shape eukaryotic genome architecture, and extrinsic — between genomes — conflicts that shape genes involved in host-pathogen interactions. Malik will describe the studies of how arms races between antiviral proteins and viral proteins leave evolutionary signatures that enable us to study them at various levels. Malik also will describe the studies on an ancient conflict between centromeric proteins and DNA, two essential components of the chromosome segregation apparatus in eukaryotes, and how genetic conflicts may have shaped fundamental aspects of meiosis and even speciation.

Malik's work has been and continues to be supported by both the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health, as well as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where he is an appointed member. In addition, he has received Early Career Scientist Awards from the HHMI and the NSF, PECASE. Malik's lecture will be open to the public and all students and faculty are invited.

If you are interested in meeting with Malik, please contact Sherry Haller at basse041@k-state.edu.