Keywords: bacterial sex, sensory system evolution, systems biology, synthetic biology
The existence of populations with exactly two sexes is an open problem in evolutionary biology. Why not three sexes? Or even better, why not one? Although exceptions exist, two-sex systems are the overwhelming majority. The diversity of sex determination systems only makes their tendency to produce binary sexual populations more mysterious, but at the same time suggests that general principles govern this naturally converging pattern. The study of binary sexual populations has been traditionally reserved for animal systems. However, it has been acknowledged that in order to understand its origins and general principles, asymmetries in simple unicellular systems must be understood. In this project we study the evolution of asymmetrical sexual populations by using a synthetic biology approach that allows the analysis to be independent from the details of specific organisms. By studying natural conjugation and engineering synthetic sexual systems in bacteria, we hope to build experimental models for the evolution of the sexes.
This project is part of the LabEx – Who am I? Initiative