The molecular basis of coral biology.
- Participation in the discovery and characterization of insect 'muscle pioneers': the scaffolds upon which insect muscles develop.
- Discovery, with Jim Truman, that nitric oxide plays a role in target recognition by outgrowing embryonic motorneurons in insects.
- Molecular characterization, together with David Miller, David Hayward, and Sylvain Foret, of many aspects of coral biology, particularly embryonic development and metamorphosis. This work has led to increasingly complete genome and transcriptome data for Acropora millepora and will culminate in the imminent release of the genome.
The next big thing
Our understanding of gene function in adult corals has lagged far behind that for developmental stages due to the presence of the massive calcium carbonate skeleton and the contractility of the adult polyps. We want to expand our studies on coral nervous system function and on calcification into adult corals.
What do you see as future challenges for your field of research?
Putting the flood of genome sequence data that has recently become available into a functional context.