We study the genetic basis for animal diversity, with a focus on the evolution of developmental processes ("Evo-Devo") in arthropods. Some of our work uses well studied laboratory models like the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the beetle Tribolium castaneum, but we also work with animals that are much less well studied, but which, because of their position in the tree of life, are particularly important for our understanding of arthropod evolution. These include an onychophoran (the velvet worm Euperipatoides kanangrensis) and a myriapod (the centipede Strigamia maritima). For these little studied animals, we find ourselves providing some of the first modern descriptions of development. Particular areas of interest are the mechanisms that pattern the very early embryo, the different ways that arthropods generate their body segments, and the role of Hox genes in the generation of diverse body plans.
We are co-ordinators of a genome sequencing and annotation project for Strigamia maritima, in collaboration with the Human Genome sequencing Center at Baylor, and members of Evonet , a Marie Curie training network focussed on the evolution of gene regulatory networks.
The Laboratory for Development and Evolution welcomes independent research fellows with distinct but related interests in the field of "Evo-Devo". Contact Michael Akam for further information