Research & Initiatives
We study hormonal axes that control important production traits in fish. In particular, we are fascinated with the function and development of endocrine cell networks that are critical for the generation of effective hormone output from endocrine glands. Our work is focused mainly on two endocrine systems:
1. Development of the GnRH system in fish
Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) is secreted by a small population of hypothalamic neurons and controls reproduction in all vertebrates, including fish. But GnRH cells are not born in the hypothalamus. They differentiate in the olfactory placode and migrate to the hypothalamus during early development. We have recently discovered that synaptic cell-cell communication plays a critical role in the migration of these neurons. We are now targeting the genes that mediate the communication as a mean to control the migration of the cells.
2. Function of the fish thyroid axis
Among the endocrine axes that control important production traits, the thyroid axis stands out as one of the most central, since thyroid hormones regulate critical physiological functions such as development, metamorphosis, growth, metabolism and reproduction. Our lab is interested in how the fish thyroid axis functions to control larval development and fish growth.
We apply a variety of research methods to dissect the way by which endocrine axes operate on a single-cell resolution to affect the physiology of the whole organism. Our work relies heavily on transgenic fish models (both zebrafish and tilapia) which are generated in house and live imaging. For all of our target species, we also apply a variety of molecular and physiological methods to study the molecular machinery and hormonal milieu that drives their physiological performance.