Faculty of Science and Technology

Developmental biology and DNA damage repair

Campus: Gippsland

Discipline: Biomedical Science

Research field: Developmental biology and DNA damage repair

Key words: DNA damage, genome, RNA, reproduction

Supervisor(s): Dr Gregory Davis

Contact details: Office 219, Building 2W, Gippsland campus, Victoria, Australia

Ph: (03) 51228054

Email: greg.davis@federation.edu.au

Brief Supervisor Bio

Greg has a strong interest in reproductive and developmental biology. His current research focuses on how the genome maintains chromosomal stability, how small non-coding RNAs (e.g. microRNAs) influence developmental pathways and the development and function of motor neurons. This involves investigating a combination of mechanisms including small RNA gene regulatory pathways, epigenetics, DNA damage repair mechanisms, and meiotic recombination.

Project title: DNA damage repair in the germline of Caenorhabditis elegans:

DNA damage repair contributes to genomic stability in all eukaryotes. Although present in all cell types, these mechanisms are highly stringent in germ cells and errors associated with germ cell DNA damage repair have been implicated in numerous diseased states. While the pathways that contribute to nuclear organisation and chromosomal segregation are well characterised, the recruitment and maintenance of these repair mechanisms is largely unknown. This project will explore several genes that are required for chromosomal integrity and determine how they contribute to genome maintenance.

Project title: Germline specific small non-coding RNAs:

Small non-coding RNAs are short stretches of RNA which are associated with regulating gene expression at the post-transcriptional level (e.g., microRNAs), but also guard the genome against viruses, pseudogenes and cryptic loci. This project will utilise the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans to explore how specific subgroups of small RNAs contribute to the development of germ cells. This requires analysis of the mechanisms that control stem cell quiescence through to the early stages of embryogenesis.

Project title: microRNAs and motor neuron development

MicroRNAs influence developmental timing and specification of body patterning in all complex multi-cellular organisms. This project will explore different microRNAs that are highly expressed in motor neurons and determine how they influence motor neuron development and function. Caenorhabditis elegans is the only organism to have its entire neuronal connectome mapped and is well suited to this type of project. Moreover, the mechanisms that drive neuronal specification are evolutionary conserved, and it is anticipated that this project will enhance our understanding of basic neurobiological mechanisms.