Computability in Europe 2008
Logic and Theory of Algorithms

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Special Session Talk:
On the Processing Power of Protozoa

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Speaker: Mark Daley


The ciliated protozoa are a group of unicellular eukaryotes which maintain two types of nuclei: functional macronuclei, and germline micronuclei. Following conjugation, in which two ciliates exchange haploid micronuclear genomes, ciliates regenerate their macronuclei from the new micronucleus. This process involves extensive genome processing and, in the case of the stichotrichous ciliates, some micronuclear genes actually have to be descrambled (via nontrivial block permutations of substrings) to form functional macronuclear genes.

In this talk we give an introduction to the underlying biology of the process and a high-level overview of formal models for gene descrambling along with an exposition of computability results. We will conclude with the presentation of a new knot-theoretic extension to the template-guided recombination model.

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