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11th Hermann Staudinger Lecture with Nobel Laureate Werner Arber

Werner Arber

From Microbial Genetics to Molecular Genetics and to Molecular Evolution

Nobel Laureate Werner Arber, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Switzerland

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1978

"From Microbial Genetics to Molecular Genetics and to Molecular Evolution" // Podcast available
When Jan 19, 2012
from 05:15 PM to 06:30 PM
Where Anatomy Lecture Hall, Alberstr. 19, 79104 Freiburg
Contact Name
Attendees öffentlich / open to the public
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From Microbial Genetics to Molecular Genetics and to Molecular Evolution

Bacterial genetics had its fulgurant start in the 1940's with the discoveries that genetic information is carried on DNA molecules and that bacterial viruses and plasmids can serve as natural gene vectors. When bacterial restriction endonucleases became available, genetic engineering was introduced around 1970 and this facilitated molecular genetic investigations. In order to evaluate long-term evolutionary risks of genetic engineering it became clear that natural mechanisms of spontaneous genetic variation had to be understood at the molecular level and compared with the strategies of genetic engineering. Again, microbial genetic approaches revealed that many different molecular mechanisms contribute to the overall genetic variation, the driving force of biological evolution. Specific enzymes serving as variation generators and/or as modulators of the rates of genetic variation are thereby involved together with non-genetic elements. Philosophical and practical implications of these insights into the natural process of biological evolution will be discussed.

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Report on the 11th Hermann Staudinger Lecture with Werner Arber:

11th Hermann Staudinger Lecture with Nobel Laureate Werner Arber On January 19th Werner Arber visited FRIAS for the 11th Staudinger Lecture. The emeritus and former rector of Basel University received the Nobel Prize in 1978 for the discovery of restriction enzymes. After an enjoyable afternoon at FRIAS, where Arber and FRIAS fellows discussed the scientific focus of LifeNet and the economic and time pressure of current young scientists, Werner Arber gave a one hour lecture at the newly renovated anatomy lecture hall. He outlined the roots and development of molecular genetics and evolution and gave insights into his work on transposons in bacteria and bacteria phages. His hand-written slides took the fascinated audience on a time travel from Darwin and Mendel in the 19th century over Watson and Crick, who discovered the double-helical structure of DNA, to modern ‘omics’ approaches. Werner Arber’s discovery marked the beginning of a new era: molecular genetics approaches are nowadays routinely performed in almost every biological lab and are indispensable. 
(Jörn Dengjel)