Thomas Kuhlman, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy who came to UC Riverside from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in July 2018, is the lead author on a study that attempts to explain how advanced life may have emerged billions of years ago.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, discusses “retrotransposons” – DNA sequences that use a “copy-and-paste” mechanism to amplify themselves in the genome. About 45 percent of the human genome is made up of retrotransposons, but bacteria have very few of them. The study also discusses “nonhomologous end-joining,” or NHEJ, a mechanism of DNA repair found in all living eukaryotes, but only some bacteria.
To read more about how retrotransposons and NHEJ may have played a previously unappreciated role in the evolution of advanced life, and what bacteria have to do with it, click here.
The research was a close collaboration with Nigel Goldenfeld at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, where the vast majority of the work was done.