Dr Chris Knight

Lecturer

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Overview

We want to understand the mechanics of evolution. Exactly what molecules change? Which ones matter? In what ways are these changes beneficial (or not) to the cell? What about the side effects? We are answering these questions using microbes. Microbes reproduce rapidly in large populations, so we can watch evolution happening in real time on the lab bench. Specific projects include: –Yeast and alcohol: Like us humans, yeast has a long-standing and complex relationship with alcohol– it can be toxic, a food a waste product or a weapon. We’re dissecting this relationship using evolution. –Yeast behaviour: Real environments are complex places and even a yeast has to read and respond to many environmental cues, sometimes in surprising ways: while for some humans a hot day is a cue for a beer, heat also prepares a yeast cell to deal with alcohol. We’re uncovering how this network of cues and responses has evolved in different yeasts. –Theory and practice: much of the mathematical theory around evolution was developed before biology’s molecular era. Working with mathematicians we are exploring how a molecular view can lead to new insights into the processes of evolution.

Biography

2012-Present
University of Manchester,
Lecturer

2008-2013

University of Manchester, Faculty of Life Sciences
Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellow

2005-2007
University of Manchester, Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre
Post-doc in yeast systems biology: funded by the BBSRC with Douglas Kell

2002-2005
University of Oxford, department of Plant Sciences
Postdoc on the molecular basis of evolution in the bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens. Funded by NERC with Paul Rainey also with the proteomics lab in the department of Biochemistry.

1997-2001
Imperial College London at Silwood Park
PhD on ‘The genetics and evolution of body size in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans’ funded by NERC, supervised by Armand Leroi

1994-1996
Christ's College Cambridge
MA Natural Sciences, finalising in genetics

Areas of expertise

Research Institutes/Networks/Beacons

Biology, Medicine and Health (BMH) Domains

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