Helen Weavers, a Wellcome Trust Ph. D. student in the Department, was awarded the Rosa Beddington medal of the British Society for Developmental Biology for the best Ph.D. submitted in 2012 (see http://blog.wellcome.ac.uk/2013/05/07/tubular-belle-qa-with-dr-helen-weavers/).
This paper addresses the problem that, while it has been known for a long time that excretion is carried out by precisely-positioned looped tubules, the mechanisms that regulate positioning and the development of their characteristic shape remain unclear. Using Drosophila melanogaster (the fruit fly), we show that specialised cells at the tubule tips bind muscle targets to control tubule position and to ensure looping. We uncover mechanisms that control binding and show that without it tubules are both mispositioned and malformed and as a result cannot function normally.