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Beyond the model nematode

Spermatocytes from A. rhodensis dividing to form an X-bearing functional sperm (red – MSP) and a residual body with the other DNA complement (green -tubulin)

Evo/Cell: Cellular insights from comparative studies of other nematode species

Grounded by our understanding of C. elegans spermatogenesis, we have begun examining the program of spermatogenesis in other nematode species. The goal of this comparative evolutionary approach is to both identify core elements that have been conserved across wide evolutionary distances as well as the many “variations on a theme” that expand our notions of what is possible with a similar “genetic toolbox”. For example, in a collaboration with the Pires daSilva group (University of Warwick), we’ve been studying how modification to the program of spermatogenesis (and oogenesis) enable males Auanema rhodensis to produce exclusively 1X sperm while hermaphrodites produce 2X sperm and 0X oocytes! We are now exploring the cellular mechanisms that underlie this example of non-Mendelian chromosome segregation and studying related species to determine how these modifications may have evolved.