Localized activation of cell signaling pathways plays a key role in tissue morphogenesis. During evolution, the expression patterns of pathway components can change both quantitatively and qualitatively, which in turn may lead to morphological changes. The proposed research uses the development of the Drosophila egg, an established model system with powerful genetics tools, to study morphological variations during 45 million years of fly speciation. The research focuses on tissue patterning by the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) pathway, a major regulator of tissue development across animals. Using genetic, molecular and bioinformatics tools, and the natural variations of eggshell morphologies, this study aims to systematically determine which of the components comprising the BMP signaling pathway can account for signaling and morphological variations across multiple Drosophila species with different eggshell morphologies. The research will provide valuable information on molecular mechanisms underlying the evolution of morphologies, and it will yield new genetic tools for detailed analyses of epithelial tissues' development. Published results will interest broad scientific communities including those of developmental, computational, evolutionary, and systems biology. The PI has created research, educational, and outreach modules to support pre-college, undergraduate and graduate students. For example, an outreach program in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, for middle and high school biology teachers and students from the Camden area, aims to provide experimental and computational tools to enrich their current biology curriculum. The researcher has developed an experimental and computational genetics lab for junior and senior undergraduates. Numerous undergraduate students followed up with their research by conducting experiments under the guidance of the PI's graduate students. The Rutgers-Camden campus recruits and enrolls students from local populations traditionally underrepresented in STEM disciplines. The researcher's lab provides an excellent environment for students of multiple learning levels to conduct research, educational, and outreach activities.
|Effective start/end date||5/15/12 → 4/30/17|
- National Science Foundation (National Science Foundation (NSF))