Carla Gonçalves awarded Best Oral Presentation

Carla Gonçalves, PhD student in the Yeast Genomics Lab, at UCIBIO in FCT NOVA, was awarded the Best Oral Presentation at the Comparative genomics of eukaryotic microbes: Dissecting sources of evolutionary diversity Conference, held in Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Spain (14 - 19 October 2017). The title of Carla Gonçalves presentation was Horizontal gene transfer events are involved in reshaping sugar metabolism in fructophilic yeasts.

The winner was selected based on on clarity and enthusiasm during the presentation and on scientific excellence of the work compared to others in the field. The work presented by Carla Gonçalves showed that a large group of yeast species found in floral nectar descend from an ancestor that had lost many genes related to sugar metabolism, including those encoding enzymes required for alcoholic fermentation. In order to adapt to the sugar rich floral niche, important metabolic pathways, like alcoholic fermentation and sucrose assimilation, were reconstructed through the acquisition of genes from bacteria. It is the first observation of bacterial genes acquired through horizontal transfer being used to remodel central carbon metabolism in fungi. This work was developed in collaboration with researchers from Vanderbilt University, USA (Antonis Rokas Lab) and University of Winsconsin-Madison (Chris T. Hittinger Lab).

Carla Gonçalves is doing her PhD thesis on the project Unraveling the molecular basis of the evolution of fructophily in yeasts: a comparative genomic approach, under the supervision of Paula Gonçalves, co-group leader of the Yeast Genomics Lab and Professor at FCT-NOVA.

The EMBO Workshop Comparative genomics of eukaryotic microbes: Dissecting sources of evolutionary diversity is focused on comparative genomics of eukaryotic microorganisms.