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. Despite their critical role, we still know little about how germ cell fate is initiated and maintained and how germ cells evade the ultimately deadly fate of the soma. In contrast to somatic cell fates, no master-regulator transcription factor has been identified that uniquely specifies germ cell fate; instead RNA regulation plays a prominent and highly conserved role in germ cells. As germ cells “make” germ cells, the work in our lab follows the germ line life cycle: We are interested in how germ plasm assembles, we are interested in the mechanisms that separate germ cells from somatic cells, how germ cells migrate through the embryo to reach the somatic gonad and how germ cell fate is maintained and protected throughout larval and adult life in order to generate a new organism. Because of their unique ability to literally renew themselves, our research takes advantage of the opportunities germ cell biology poses to understand the cellular mechanisms of totipotency and the challenges associated with immortality.


Research Areas: