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Faculty & Staff

Start and Promotion Dates

  • Assistant Professor: 2021

Education

PhD: Emory University, Department of Chemistry
Postdoctoral research: NASA Astrobiology Institute and Harvard University

Areas of Study

Origins of life, astrobiology, early life and evolution, systems and synthetic biology, molecular paleobiology

Research Overview

The Kaçar Lab investigates the origins of life, the biology of early Earth and how understanding life’s emergence and early mechanisms may assist finding life beyond Earth. We are home to a NASA Astrobiology Center MUSE DISCOVERY to investigate the dynamics between environment, evolution and life. Our integrative approach enables the study of biomolecule-scale macroevolutionary trends that span billions of years of history and is a fundamentally new methodology with which to study the origins and early evolution of life. The overall goal of our work is to assess the possible environmental impacts of ancient enzymes on global-scale signatures that record biological activity. Our work has been recognized by various media outlets, such as the UN Women, UNICEF, Library of Congress, European Union Delegation on Education, NOVA Science, BBC, NPR Science Friday, MIT Technology Review, Vice News, Wired, PBS, CNN and others. 

 

For more please visit the following links:

 

Lab Personnel

Picture of Adam
Zachary Adam
Associate Scientist
zadam2@wisc.edu
Picture of Cuevas Zuviria
Bruno Cuevas Zuviria
Postdoc
cuevaszuviri@wisc.edu
Picture of Fer
Evrim Fer
Grad Student
fer@wisc.edu
Picture of Garcia
Amanda Garcia
Assistant Scientist
akgarcia3@wisc.edu
Picture of Katsoulidis
Maria Katsoulidis
Project Coordinator
katsoulidis@wisc.edu
Picture of McGrath
Kaitlyn McGrath
Honorary Associate
kmcgrath5@wisc.edu
Picture of Pinochet Barros
Azul Pinochet Barros
Postdoc
pinochetbarr@wisc.edu

Research Papers

  • Kędzior M, Kacar B (2021) Quantification of RuBisCO Expression and Photosynthetic Oxygen Evolution in Cyanobacteria. Bio-protocol 11((20)):e4199 PMC8554809 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Kędzior, M., & Kacar, B. (2021) Quantification of RuBisCO Expression and Photosynthetic Oxygen Evolution in Cyanobacteria. Bio Protocol 11(20): · DOI

    Phototrophic microorganisms are frequently engineered to regulate the expression and the activity of targeted enzymes of interest for specific biotechnological and agricultural applications. This protocol describes a method to evaluate the expression of RuBisCO (ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase) in the model cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942, at both the transcript and protein levels by quantitative PCR and Western blot, respectively. We further describe an experimental method to determine photosynthetic activity using an oxygen electrode that measures the rate of molecular oxygen production by cyanobacterial cultures. Our protocol can be utilized to assess the effects of RuBisCO engineering at the metabolic and physiological levels.

  • De Tarafder A, Parajuli NP, Majumdar S, Kaçar B, Sanyal S (2021) Kinetic Analysis Suggests Evolution of Ribosome Specificity in Modern Elongation Factor-Tus from "Generalist" Ancestors. Molecular biology and evolution 38((8)):3436-3444 PMC8321524 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Garcia AK, Cavanaugh CM, Kacar B (2021) The curious consistency of carbon biosignatures over billions of years of Earth-life coevolution. The ISME journal 15((8)):2183-2194 PMC8319343 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Carruthers BM, Garcia AK, Rivier A, Kacar B (2021) Automated Laboratory Growth Assessment and Maintenance of Azotobacter vinelandii. Current protocols 1((3)):e57 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Goldman AD, Kacar B (2021) Cofactors are Remnants of Life's Origin and Early Evolution. Journal of molecular evolution 89((3)):127-133 PMC7982383 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Adam ZR, Fahrenbach AC, Jacobson SM, Kacar B, Zubarev DY (2021) Radiolysis generates a complex organosynthetic chemical network. Scientific reports 11((1)):1743 PMC7813863 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Kacar B, Garcia AK, Anbar AD (2020) Evolutionary History of Bioessential Elements Can Guide the Search for Life in the Universe. Chembiochem : a European journal of chemical biology 22((1)):114-119 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Venkataram S, Monasky R, Sikaroodi SH, Kryazhimskiy S, Kacar B (2020) Evolutionary stalling and a limit on the power of natural selection to improve a cellular module. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 117((31)):18582-18590 PMC7414050 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Garcia AK, McShea H, Kolaczkowski B, Kaçar B (2020) Reconstructing the evolutionary history of nitrogenases: Evidence for ancestral molybdenum-cofactor utilization. Geobiology 18((3)):394-411 PMC7216921 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Liberles DA, Chang B, Geiler-Samerotte K, Goldman A, Hey J, Kaçar B, Meyer M, Murphy W, Posada D, Storfer A (2020) Emerging Frontiers in the Study of Molecular Evolution. Journal of molecular evolution 88((3)):211-226 PMC7386396 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Garcia AK, Kaçar B (2019) How to resurrect ancestral proteins as proxies for ancient biogeochemistry. Free radical biology & medicine 140:260-269 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Walker SI, Bains W, Cronin L, DasSarma S, Danielache S, Domagal-Goldman S, Kacar B, Kiang NY, Lenardic A, Reinhard CT, Moore W, Schwieterman EW, Shkolnik EL, Smith HB (2018) Exoplanet Biosignatures: Future Directions. Astrobiology 18((6)):779-824 PMC6016573 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Kacar B, Guy L, Smith E, Baross J (2017) Resurrecting ancestral genes in bacteria to interpret ancient biosignatures. Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences 375((2109)): PMC5686408 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Kacar B, Garmendia E, Tuncbag N, Andersson DI, Hughes D (2017) Functional Constraints on Replacing an Essential Gene with Its Ancient and Modern Homologs. mBio 8((4)): PMC5574714 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Kacar B, Hanson-Smith V, Adam ZR, Boekelheide N (2017) Constraining the timing of the Great Oxidation Event within the Rubisco phylogenetic tree. Geobiology 15((5)):628-640 PMC5575542 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Kacar B, Ge X, Sanyal S, Gaucher EA (2017) Experimental Evolution of Escherichia coli Harboring an Ancient Translation Protein. Journal of molecular evolution 84((2-3)):69-84 PMC5371648 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Domagal-Goldman SD, Wright KE, Adamala K, Arina de la Rubia L, Bond J, Dartnell LR, Goldman AD, Lynch K, Naud ME, Paulino-Lima IG, Singer K, Walther-Antonio M, Abrevaya XC, Anderson R, Arney G, Atri D, Azúa-Bustos A, Bowman JS, Brazelton WJ, Brennecka GA, Carns R, Chopra A, Colangelo-Lillis J, Crockett CJ, DeMarines J, Frank EA, Frantz C, de la Fuente E, Galante D, Glass J, Gleeson D, Glein CR, Goldblatt C, Horak R, Horodyskyj L, Kaçar B, Kereszturi A, Knowles E, Mayeur P, McGlynn S, Miguel Y, Montgomery M, Neish C, Noack L, Rugheimer S, Stüeken EE, Tamez-Hidalgo P, Imari Walker S, Wong T (2016) The Astrobiology Primer v2.0. Astrobiology 16((8)):561-653 PMC5008114 · Pubmed · DOI

    No abstract available.

  • Kaçar B, Gaucher EA (2013) Experimental evolution of protein-protein interaction networks. The Biochemical journal 453((3)):311-9 PMC3727214 · Pubmed · DOI

    The modern synthesis of evolutionary theory and genetics has enabled us to discover underlying molecular mechanisms of organismal evolution. We know that in order to maximize an organism's fitness in a particular environment, individual interactions among components of protein and nucleic acid networks need to be optimized by natural selection, or sometimes through random processes, as the organism responds to changes and/or challenges in the environment. Despite the significant role of molecular networks in determining an organism's adaptation to its environment, we still do not know how such inter- and intra-molecular interactions within networks change over time and contribute to an organism's evolvability while maintaining overall network functions. One way to address this challenge is to identify connections between molecular networks and their host organisms, to manipulate these connections, and then attempt to understand how such perturbations influence molecular dynamics of the network and thus influence evolutionary paths and organismal fitness. In the present review, we discuss how integrating evolutionary history with experimental systems that combine tools drawn from molecular evolution, synthetic biology and biochemistry allow us to identify the underlying mechanisms of organismal evolution, particularly from the perspective of protein interaction networks.