We are interested in how the regulation of genes affects development and physiology. Recently we have begun to investigate how increases in ocean water temperature may be affecting reproduction through its effect on gene expression. Our main study organism is the sea squirt Ciona intestinalis, for which there is an abundance of resources for analyzing gene expression, development and physiology.

Reproductive physiology and temperature     18v22_fig1a

How will climate change affect marine invertebrates? We are investigating this question using proteomics and gene editing. We have identified candidate signaling molecules that may regulate the response of ovaries to high water temperature. Current work is aimed at modifying expression of these molecules to find out more about how environmental signals connect with physiological changes in the reproductive system.

Role of DllB in early development    td1-comp

DllB is one of the earliest genes to come on in the embryo. We have been investigating its role and its regulation. DllB is expressed in the entire gastrula prospective ectoderm. Knocking down expression using dominant negative transgenes unexpectedly results in defects in mesodermal structures, such as the notochord. We are currently testing whether this is because of signaling from ectoderm to mesoderm regulated by DllB.