Research in our lab is aimed at understanding the causes and consequences of evolutionary change in developmental processes. We are especially interested in those genes and developmental processes that direct cell fate specification in early embryogenesis. Our experimental work is primarily focused on the evolution and development of germ cells and reproductive systems in animals. Multicellularity evolved many times in eukaryotes, and in each instance, when cells of the multicellular aggregate first begin to adopt distinct fates, the first division of labor to arise is one that separates a reproductive lineage (the germ line) from a sterile lineage (the soma). A dedicated germ line is thus a profound novelty and critical feature of multicellular life. In sexually reproducing organisms, only the germ cells can contribute their genome to the next generation. Consequently, germ line specification and gonad function can have significant impacts on reproductive success and fitness.
In our germ line research, we to aim to understand the evolution of mechanisms that specify the animal germ line. In our somatic gonad research, we examine how the developmental and molecular mechanisms that control ovarian morphogenesis influence reproductive capacity, and how the evolution of these mechanisms may have been adaptive. Other projects in the lab include arthropod body plan evolution and improvement of genomic and functional genetic tools for use in non-model organisms. Click the links above to read more about these broad categories of research, or on the links below to find out about specific projects.
SNAPSHOT: Extavour Lab Research Highlights 2007-2013
Germ Line Research
Evolution of Germ Line Specification Mechanisms
Evolution of a Novel Germ Line Determinant Gene
Evolution of Germ Cell Migration Mechanisms
Somatic Gonad Research
Developmental Mechanisms That Regulate Reproductive Capacity
Developmental Genetic Basis of Ovariole Number Evolution
Body Plan and Other Research
Evolution of Arthropod Body Plans
Early Cell Fates and Cell Movements in Holoblastic Arthropod Embryogenesis
Developing Genomic Resources and Functional Genetic Tools for Emerging Model Organisms