Dr. George Somero, Stanford University
Abstract: I will chiefly focus on the effects of changes in temperature on large molecular systems like proteins and show how adaptation can be achieved through two means: modify the intrinsic structure of the molecule (the amino acid sequence of the protein, in this case) or alter the milieu in which the macromolecule functions (factors extrinsic to the protein adaptively shift its properties). I will focus a lot on marine animals that I've worked with for over a half-century. These range from highly cold-adapted Antarctic species, on which I did my Ph.D. work, to extremely heat tolerant (~55°C upper thermal limits) intertidal invertebrates from South China. I also will discuss how sessile intertidal invertebrates employ these two strategies of adaptation to cope with the large changes in temperature they encounter due to the tidal cycle. Lastly--and time permitting--I'll talk about some new work on adaptation of animals to extremes of hydrostatic pressure, another topic I began working on during my days at SIO.