Lisa Nagy

Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology
Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Professor, Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Professor, Entomology / Insect Science - GIDP

I am interested in exploring the genetic basis of morphological diversity. To do this, I ask how developmental regulatory networks known to pattern a particular aspect of morphology in one organism are modified in other related organisms. At the moment, the focus of the lab is on the evolution of arthropod body plans and appendages and axial patterning in molluscs and other lophotrochozoan phyla. Arthropods show a large degree of variation in segmental and limb patterning. Segments, or groups of segments, have repeatedly become specialized for feeding, walking or swimming. Many of the key genes and genetic pathways that regulate segmentation and limb formation have been worked out through molecular genetic analyses in Drosophila or other model organisms.  We ask what role developmental regulatory genes play in the evolution of morphological diversity and whether there are properties of developmental systems that constrain or promote phylogenetic change. Other areas of interest include the molecular evolution of the HOX clusters, modeling developmental pathways, the developmental mechanisms underlying phenotypic plasticity and the evolution of life history strategies.