Genome Sciences at the University of Washington
The Abitua lab studies the evolution of developmental novelties by comparing homologous cells across distantly related species. Currently, we are exploring cellular innovation in the annual killifish Nothobranchius furzeri, whose embryos adapted to survive extreme environmental conditions. Their radical morphogenesis and ability to enter diapause — suspended animation — distinguish them uniquely from other fish and make them ideal for studying novelty.
Axis formation in annual killifish: Nodal coordinates morphogenesis in absence of Huluwa prepatterning
Axis formation in fish and amphibians is initiated by a prepattern of maternal gene products in the blastula. The embryogenesis of annual killifish challenges prepatterning models because blastomeres disperse and then re-aggregate to form the germ layers and body axes. This dispersion-aggregation process prompts the question how axis determinants such as Huluwa and germ layer inducers such as Nodal function in annual killifish.