Evolution of viviparity in lizards. Reproduction of reptiles.

Summary

Evolution of viviparity in lizards: Many projects in this broad area are on offer, depending on the skills and interests of the student, using combinations of light and electron microscopy, microscopy, physiology, molecular biology and immunohistochemistry.

Reproduction of reptiles: We are interested in developing new projects in areas of the reproductive biology and embryonic development of oviparous and live-bearing lizards, snakes and mammals, including reproductive cycles, sex determination and reproductive behaviours.

Supervisor(s)

Dr Camilla Whittington, Professor Christopher R Murphy

Research Location

School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Program Type

Masters/PHD

Synopsis

Evolution of viviparity in lizards: Many projects in this broad area are on offer, depending on the skills and interests of the student, using combinations of light and electron microscopy, microscopy, physiology, molecular biology and immunohistochemistry.  Of particular interest to us at present is identifying genes that are important in the evolution of live birth and the evolution of complex placenta.  Currently, we are embarking on a program of transcriptomic analyses to identify important genes, which will then be followed up with morphological and physiological studies.  We have a current project that is studying one gene that is important in the uterus of lizards during pregnancy, but which is also thought to be a potent factor in supporting cancer tumour in humans.  The project combines the work on the evolution of viviparity with basic human cancer cell biology.

Reproduction of reptiles: We are interested in developing new projects in areas of the reproductive biology and embryonic development of oviparous and live-bearing lizards, snakes and mammals, including reproductive cycles, sex determination and reproductive behaviours.  There are many aspects of reproduction that are tangential, but nevertheless important, to the work on the evolution of viviparity.  Aspects of reproductive biology that are important in the evolution of reptilian life history strategies are of interest to us, including nesting behaviours, incubation of eggs, mechanisms of sex determination, thermoregulation of pregnant and gravid lizards, and multiple paternity.

Additional Information

We are interested in encouraging students to work in any of the areas that we have outlined.  The laboratory is well supported intellectually with 1-3 postdoctoral fellows and about 5 PhD students at any one time.  We aim to have 1-2 honours students per year, as well.

Current PhD and honours projects on offer include:

  • Characterising the expression of a suit of genes during pregnancy in both oviparous and viviparous lizards.
  • Development of blood vessels in the uterus of pregnant lizards to support pregnancy.
  • Comparison cell biology of uterine preparation for pregnancy in lizards and the marsupial, Smnithopsis.

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Keywords

Reptile, Reproduction, Evolution, viviparity, microscopy

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1469

Other opportunities with Dr Camilla Whittington