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Snezhana Oliferenko : Comparative Biology of Mitotic Division Lab

We compare related yeast species to study how cells grow and divide.

Cells come in different shapes and forms but all multiply by splitting in two. A copy of the genetic information held in an original cell is passed into each new, daughter cell when it divides. Scientists call this inheritance process mitosis.

If a mistake is made during mitosis then inaccurate genetic information in the new cells can lead to developmental defects or disease.

Our lab aims to understand mitosis and the different approaches organisms use to complete it.

During mitosis, some cells break open the protective envelope that surrounds the nucleus, the part of the cell where genetic information is held. Other cells keep this envelope closed all the time.

The envelope must restructure during mitosis to let new nuclei form. Both nuclei should contain exactly the same genetic information if mitosis has worked well.

We compare nuclear envelope remodelling and cellular division site positioning in two species of yeast called Schizosaccharomyces pombe and Schizosaccharomyces japonicus. These two types of yeast have evolved strikingly different strategies to complete mitosis and divide, but both are successful.

We use this ‘experiment of Nature’ to answer questions about the nuclear envelope and the process of mitosis.