Evolution of Developmental Processes
Our lab is examining developmental events leading to the formation of diverse larval and adult body plans in a group of protostome phyla collectively referred to as the "Spiralia." The "Spiralia" represent a large group of closely related invertebrate phyla (members of the protostome, "Lophotrochozoa"). Despite the fact that this clade represents nearly 20% of the 30-plus metazoan phyla, relatively little is known of the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling their development.
Studies point to significant levels of conservation in the functions of a number of transcriptional regulatory networks and cell signaling pathways during development in the Metazoa. Most developmental/molecular studies have been carried out in a small number of model systems, which have been selected for certain experimental advantages. Therefore, the generality of so-called "fundamental" developmental processes within the Spiralia, and the Metazoa in general, is uncertain. Our studies examine the role of key cellular and molecular mechanisms in the establishment of cell fates and axial properties, and our work has focused on the slipper snail, Crepidula fornicata, as a model system to carry out this research.
We completed 454 sequencing of a normalized cDNA library representing genes expressed during the first five days of development in C. fornicata. This effort has revealed a tremendous array of developmental genes that we are now studying.
C. fornicata veligers
C. fornicata juveniles
This research is funded by N.S.F. Grant IOS 1558061 to J.J.H.