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Richard Dorell

Richard Dorrell

Post-doctoral researcher

Contact details
Institut de Biologie de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure (IBENS)
46 rue d’Ulm, 75005 Paris, France
Phone : (33 (0) 144 32 35 28
Fax : (33) (0) 144 32 39 35
E-mail: dorrell at
BA (First Class Hons) Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge 2010
PhD Biochemistry, University of Cambridge 2014

Research interests
Evolution of chloroplast maintenance pathways in photosynthetic stramenopiles

Following their endosymbiotic acquisition, chloroplasts undergo dramatic changes in terms of genome content, and internal biology. For example, pathways that are native to the host, and did not previously function in the chloroplast lineage, may be recruited to the chloroplast to support its biology. We are investigating the evolutionary origins of the very first pathways to be recruited to support chloroplasts, following their endosymbiotic acquisition. We are particularly interested in whether other endosymbiotically acquired organelles, such as the mitochondria, might influence early events in chloroplast evolution.

I am reconstructing the chloroplast-targeted proteome of the last common ancestor of photosynthetic stramenopiles, integrating genomic and transcriptomic data from Phaeodactylum tricornutum with other lineages. I am also investigating the evolution of mitochondria-chloroplast interactions in P. tricornutum, focusing on protein targeting, and unusual physiological connections between the chloroplasts and mitochondria of diatoms.

In my spare time, I have a couple of side projects concerning post-endosymbiotic evolution in dinoflagellate chloroplasts. I additionally deliver lectures for the third year undergraduate Plant Sciences course at Cambridge University, exploring algal and chloroplast diversity, and am happy to talk to prospective students about research in eukaryotic evolution.

Selected Publications
• Functional remodelling of RNA processing in replacement chloroplasts by pathways retained from their predecessors. Dorrell, R.G, Howe, C. J. (2012) PNAS, 109(46): 18879-18884.
• Evolution of chloroplast transcript processing in Plasmodium and its chromerid algal relatives, Dorrell, R.G., Drew, J., Nisbet, R.E.R., Howe, C.J., (2014) PLoS Genet, 10: 1004008.
• Genome-wide transcript profiling reveals the coevolution of plastid genome sequences and transcript processing pathways in the fucoxanthin dinoflagellate Karlodinium veneficum, Richardson, E.*, Dorrell, R.G.*, Howe, C.J. (2014) MBE, 31: 2376-2386.

Awards and Grants
2009/ 2010 Gatsby undergraduate scholarship, Sainsbury Foundation
2009 Frank Smart Prize, 2010 TB Woods and Sylvia Haslam Prizes, University of Cambridge
2013 Small project grant, British Phycological Society
2013 Manton Prize, British Phycological Society
2014 HE Woodman prize, University of Cambridge
2014 Research in Paris post-doctoral exchange fellowship, Mairie de Paris
2015 Early career fellowship, EMBO

Students Supervised
James Drew (July-September 2012)
Elisabeth Richardson (January-March 2013)
George Hinksman (July-August 2013)