Dr Dave Ferrier

Senior Lecturer

SOI 1.10
tel. 01334 463480


Research Overview. We aim to understand how the diversity of form in the animal kingdom evolved. The focus of our research is the connection between the evolution of animal genome organisation and development, with a particular concentration on the homeobox-containing genes. The Hox gene cluster is established as a corner-stone of Evolutionary Developmental Biology, but much about the evolution of its organisation and mode of operation remains unknown. Also the Hox cluster is not unique as a homeobox gene cluster controlling animal development, further clusters being the ParaHox and NK clusters, all of which evolved within larger arrays of homeobox genes (the Mega-cluster and Super-Hox cluster). We utilize a variety of organisms in our research (including amphioxus, sea squirts, polychaetes and priapulids), chosen from key points in the phylogeny of the animals to enable reconstruction of the ancestral conditions at major nodes in the animal kingdom; the origin of bilaterians, protostomes, deuterostomes, chordates and vertebrates.



Ferrier, DEK 2016, 'The origin of the Hox/ParaHox genes, the Ghost Locus hypothesis and the complexity of the first animal' Briefings in Functional Genomics, vol 15, no. 5, pp. 333-341. DOI: 10.1093/bfgp/elv056
Ferrier, DEK 2016, 'Evolution of homeobox gene clusters in animals: the Giga-cluster and primary versus secondary clustering' Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, vol 4, 36. DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2016.00036
Garstang, MG, Osborne, P & Ferrier, DEK 2016, 'TCF/Lef regulates the Gsx ParaHox gene in central nervous system development in chordates' BMC Evolutionary Biology, vol 16, 57. DOI: 10.1186/s12862-016-0614-3
Plöschner, M, Kollárová, V, Dostál, Z, Nylk, J, Barton-Owen, T, Ferrier, DEK, Chmelík, R, Dholakia, K & Čižmár, T 2015, 'Multimode fibre: light-sheet microscopy at the tip of a needle' Scientific Reports, vol 5, 18050. DOI: 10.1038/srep18050
Yang, Z, Piksarv, P, Ferrier, DEK, Gunn-Moore, FJ & Dholakia, K 2015, 'Macro-optical trapping for sample confinement in light sheet microscopy' Biomedical Optics Express, vol 6, no. 8, pp. 2778-2785. DOI: 10.1364/BOE.6.002778
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