Developmental Genetics Research Group


Research in this group is concerned with the molecular mechanisms that transform the fertilized egg into the complex organism.

The Alonso, Couso and Newbury groups study the roles of RNA regulation (Alonso, Newbury) and that of a new class of gene regulators termed smORFs (Couso) during the development of the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster. In addition to its easy culture conditions and short life cycle, Drosophila is an excellent system to investigate how genes control specific aspects of development given that its embryology is known in very high detail, its genome is fully sequenced and beautifully annotated; in addition large numbers of mutant stocks (bearing mutations that affect specific genes) are shared and available world-wide. This adds to excellent genetic (balancer chromosomes), gene expression (UAS/Gal4 system and derivatives) and a wide range of imaging approaches (see Phillips Lab) and molecular tools.

The Maconochie and Richardson groups are interested in the formation of organs (organogenesis) in vertebrates and both groups study as a model system the mouse inner ear. The Richardson Lab investigates the roles of specific genes during the development and function of two structures within the cochlea, the tectorial membrane and the sensory hair bundle. The Maconochie Lab focuses on the process of ear patterning exploring the roles of signalling pathways during the formation of the sensory patches and their inervation.