Our group is interested in understanding how regeneration is controlled at the cellular and molecular level. Advances in our ability to analyse gene function means that this problem is now tractable in a every wider range of model systems. Our group focuses on planarians to study regeneration. These animals have a large population of proliferating stem cell, some of which are pluripotent. Together these cells self-renew and are able to differentiate in a highly coordinated manner to regenerate all the tissues and organs in these animals.
When one animal is cut into a number of pieces regeneration will allow each one to form a whole new animals, as all tissues and organs are regenerated from proliferating stem cells. Our group aims to contribute to describing the genetic control systems that facilitate all aspects of this incredible process, which remains relatively poorly understood. We are also interested in how and why regenerative processes evolve or are lost over evolutionary time and the relationship to the evolution of different reproductive modes. To this end we are using a broad comparative approach that encompasses a number of different planarian species.