The Akam group, based in the Department of Zoology, work on Hox genes and the evolution of fundamental body plan architecture in arthropods. In particular work on the developmental genetics of segmentation in arthropods such as the centipede Strigamia have shed light on how the much better understood but very derived segmentation of the Drosophila embryo has arisen.
Pat Simpson works mainly on the evolution of thoracic bristle patterns in Drosophila. This has led to insights into how particular genes, such as achaete-scute can play a key role in morphological evolution.
Glover, based in Plant Sciences, work on flower development and its adaptive role in signalling to plant pollinators. There is a particular interest in the role of cell shape and colour in adaptation to specific pollinator species.
Their main area of interest is the evolution and development of floral traits that are important in attracting animal pollinators. By understanding how plants build traits that attract particular animals the group aims to understand the diversification of the flowering plants.
The Glover group is particularly interested in petal characters such as colour, texture and insect-mimicking spots. They use a multidisciplinary approach integrating the use of molecular genetics, systematic and developmental techniques and incorporate this with our understanding of pollinator responses as studied in our bee behavioural facility in order to address questions of floral trait evolution.
Understanding plant-pollinator interactions in this integrated way provides us with tools to contribute to the design of strategies to protect biodiversity of plants and animals. This increased understanding of floral traits and pollinator attraction can allow for work towards optimization of pollinator attraction and contribute to food security.
Clare Baker’s lab, based in the Department of Physiology, Development & Neuroscience, works on the development and evolution of the vertebrate peripheral nervous system from neurogenic placodes and the neural crest, with a focus on sensory systems. Her lab uses embryos from a a wide range of species, including so far lamprey, shark, skate, paddlefish, sturgeon, catfish, zebrafish, axolotl, Xenopus, mouse and chick. One of the main current projects in her lab is the development and evolution of vertebrate lateral line electoreceptors.