The John Templeton Foundation have confirmed the award of a two-year research grant to the laboratory of James McInerney at The University of Manchester.
The grant will fund two post-doctoral researchers for two years each in order to shed light on the origin of the Eukaryotic cell.
This area of research has experienced a huge increase in interest in recent years, with the accumulation of vast amounts of genome sequences from both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The biggest distinction in biology, arguably, is the difference between eukaryote cells and prokaryote cells. To our knowlege, all extant eukaryotes are descended from cells that harbored mitochondria - we know of no primitively amitochondriate eukaryotes. Additionally, eukaryotes have a host of features that seem to have been wrought in varying degrees from prokaryote parts.
In this project, the origin of the eukaryotic cell will be probed using a combination of standard phylogenetic approaches, novel networks approaches, metabolomic approaches and molecular clock approaches. In the end, we should have a clearer picture of how the eukaryotic cell came into existence.