Welcome to the Jeffery Lab!

     We study the molecular and genetic basis of evolutionary changes in development using several different model systems. Using the blind and de-pigmented cavefish Astyanax mexicanus, we study the mechanisms of eye degeneration, pigment loss, and the evolution of behavior. The cavefish model has many favorable attributes for these studies, including the existence of a surface dwelling conspecific, which has eyes and pigmentation, but differs substantially from cavefish in its behavioral repertoire, the availability of laboratory culture, molecular, embryonic, and genetic analysis. Using ascidians (tunicates or sea squirts), which are thought to be the sister group of vertebrates in the Phylum Chordata, we study the origin and evolution of the chordate neural crest and the molecular and cellular basis for their powerful tissue regeneration capacities, which are unique among the chordates. These studies include work on the model ascidian Ciona intestinalis, which has a sequenced genome and a rich of history of research in developmental biology.

     Our work is carried out during the summer months at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA and the Station Biologique, Roscoff, France, as well as at the University of Maryland, and we often carry out cavefish field studies in the Sierra Madre Orientale, Mexico.  

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