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The Gillis Lab studies the embryonic development of cartilaginous fishes (sharks, skates, rays and holocephalans), in order to better understand the origin and early evolution of the vertebrate body plan. We are particularly interested in the development and evolution of jawed vertebrate skeletal and sensory systems.

Current research topics include:

  • Gill arch axial patterning, serial homology and the origin of jawed vertebrates
  • Fate mapping the neural crest of cartilaginous fishes
  • Development, growth and repair of cartilage in sharks and skates
  • Development and evolution of the lateral line system
  • Development and evolution of the vertebrate axial skeleton

Key Publications

Gillis JA, Alsema EC, Criswell KE (2017) A trunk neural crest origin of dermal denticles in a cartilaginous fish. Proc. Nat'l Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 114: 13200-13205.

Criswell KE, Coates MI, Gillis JA (2017) Embryonic origin of the gnathostome vertebral column. Proc. Roy. Soc. B. 284: 20172121.

Gillis JA, Tidswell ORA (2017) The origin of vertebrate gills. Curr. Biol. 27: 729-732.

Gillis JA, Hall BK (2016) A shared role for sonic hedgehog signalling in patterning chondrichthyan gill arch appendages and tetrapod limbs. Development 143: 1313-1317.

Gillis JA, Modrell MS, Baker CVH (2013) Developmental evidence for serial homology of the vertebrate jaw and gill arch endoskeleton. Nat. Commun. 4: 1436.

Gillis JA, Modrell MS, Northcutt RG, Catania KC, Luer C, Baker CVH (2012) Electrosensory ampullary organs are derived from lateral line placodes in cartilaginous fishes. Development 139: 3142-3146.

Full list of publications

Contact Details

Group Leader

Dr Andrew Gillis

Department of Zoology
University of Cambridge
Downing St

01223  (3)34352

Group Members