Research Interests

Germ cells are the stem cells for the next generation. Set-aside during embryogenesis from the somatic cells that form the body of the organism, germ cells, through the fusion of sperm and egg, generate a new organism. Research in our lab focuses on the biology of germ cells in Drosophila. We are interested in how germ cell fate is initiated and maintained and how germ cells evade the ultimately deadly fate of the soma. As germ cells "make" germ cells, the work in our lab follows the germ line life cycle: RNA regulation plays a prominent and highly conserved role in germ cells. We are interested in how a specific subset of mRNAs organizes within specialized RNA granules to specify germ cell fate in the early embryo. We have identified lipid-signaling pathways that guide germ cells through the embryo to reach the somatic gonad. Systematic genetic analysis has provided a framework how germline stem cells are maintained throughout larval and adult life and mature in order to generate a new organism. Because germ cells face unique challenges associated with totipotency and immortality, we are intrigued by germline-specific defense mechanisms against pathogens and transposable elements.

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Primary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology

Secondary Section

Section 26: Genetics