Micklem Lab

University of Cambridge


Bdelloid rotifer genomics

A project in collaboration with Alan Tunnacliffe.

Bdelloid rotifers are microscopic animals that have survived without sex for millions of years and are able to survive desiccation at all life stages through a process called anhydrobiosis. As such, their genomes contain unique adaptations, some of which are the focus of this project.

A large scale transcriptome analysis indicates an extremely high rate of horizontal gene transfer. Bdelloid rotifers express horizontally acquired genes on a scale unprecedented in animals, and foreign genes make a profound contribution to their metabolism. This represents a potential mechanism for ancient asexuals to adapt rapidly to changing environments and thereby persist over long evolutionary time periods in the absence of sex.

Selected publications

Multiple functionally divergent and conserved copies of alpha tubulin in bdelloid rotifers 2012 Aug 17 BMC Evolutionary Biology Eyres I, Frangedakis E, Fontaneto D, Herniou DA, ..., Barraclough TG
Biochemical Diversification through Foreign Gene Expression in Bdelloid Rotifers 2012 Nov 15 PLoS Genetics Boschetti C, Carr A, Crisp A, Eyres I, ..., Tunnacliffe A