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My long-term goal is to understand how vertebrates evolved from their invertebrate ancestors. To this end, we use the cephalochordate amphioxus (Branchiostoma) as a model for the common ancestor of amphioxus and vertebrates. To date, our studies of developmental genetics in amphioxus have given insights into evolution of vertebrate-specific structures such as neural crest and into evolution of the gastrula organizer among others.
My present research involves
- Establishing breeding cultures of the Florida amphioxus (Branchiostoma floridae). This goal, which we have recently achieved, is to obtain spawning of amphioxus outside the normal summer breeding season and to establish transgenic lines.
- The evolution and function of alternative splicing with particular reference to Pax genes.
- The evolution of the genetic mechanisms mediating somite segmentation.
- The evolution of head segmentation.
- Comparative genomics of Branchiostoma floridae and the second genus of amphioxus, Asymmetron lucayanum.