Nipam Patel (University of California, Berkeley)
MolBio Seminar Series
Dr Patel grew up in El Paso, Texas. He received his A.B. degree from Princeton University where he worked with Dr. Malcolm Steinberg. He obtained his Ph.D with Dr. Corey Goodman at Stanford University. From there he spent four years as an independent Staff Associate at the Carnegie Institution's Department of Embryology, and then on to a faculty position at the University of Chicago. He is currently a Professor of Molecular Cell Biology and Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He studies, from a developmental perspective, the evolutionary changes responsible for generating the diversity of life, with a focus on the evolution of arthropod body patterning at the molecular and genetic level. Dr. Patel currently holds the Power Chair at UC Berkeley and is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has co-authored an undergraduate textbook on Evolution, taught in the Woods Hole Embryology course for over twelve years, and is an editor for the journal Development.
The Evolution of Developmental Diversity: Insights from Emerging Model Organisms
Organismal development is remarkably robust in the face of genetic and environmental variation, but at the same time quite amenable to change during evolution or in response to certain external cues. Studies in model species have revealed many of the genetic networks that guide development, and have opened the door to understanding how evolutionary changes in these networks lead to morphological and developmental diversity. I will describe our recent studies to understand developmental variation, focusing on the germline in the crustacean, Parhyale hawaiensis, and structural coloration in butterflies. Parhyale derives its primordial germ cells from a single precursor cell at the eight-cell stage. If this cell is ablated, the animal hatches without a detectable germline, but remarkably these animals are fertile as adults. We have been able to determine the source and timing of this replacement. I will also describe the developmental basis of structural coloration in the Achillides swallowtails. The scales of these butterflies use a combination of multilayer reflection and scale geometry to create a range of colors. Developmentally, the scale geometry appears to be controlled by cytoskeletal reorganization, and evolutionary changes in geometry appear to contribute to variation between species, between populations, and between seasonal variants.
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