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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Reproductive Biology

Reproductive biology research in BMB is primarily focused on the generation, maintenance and regulation of males and females gametes, their coming together to form a viable zygote (embryo) through the fascinating process of fertilization, along with the determinants of fertility and infertility.

ReproductiveThe recent recruitment of Daniela Drummond-Barbosa and Philip Jordan, who are experts in the area of female and male gametogenesis, respectively, to the BMB faculty has added to the strength of our activities in these important areas of medicine and public health. Dr. Drummond-Barbosa is using a combination of genetic, molecular and cell biological tools to study ovarian stem cells and how they respond to a variety of physiological stimuli, including dietary changes. 

The control of meiotic maturation is a key process in the development of both sperm and eggs.  Dr. Jordan’s laboratory investigates the genetic regulation of spermatogenesis and male fertility, focusing on on meiosis, a specialized cell division unique to germ cells that reduces the number of chromosome sets from two (diploid) to one (haploid), producing the gametes Dr. Jordan’s studies are providing significant new information about how germ cells program the meiotic division phase, and ultimately will help us understand how errors in meiotic mechanisms cause aneuploidy, or inappropriate chromosome number, in offspring.

Photo Caption: The Drummond-Barbosa laboratory uses genetic mosaic analysis and confocal microscopy to investigate how nutrient-sensing pathways control stem cell lineages and oogenesis in the Drosophila fruitfly ovary. This research has implications for understanding how diet impacts conserved pathways affecting stem cell biology and fertility in organism ranging from fruitflies to humans. The confocal microscopy image shows a wildtype (normal) mosaic ovariole, where germline and follicle cell clones are recognized by the absence of green fluorescent protein. The fusome (a special early germline organelle), follicle cell membranes, and sheath nuclei are labeled in red. Image courtesy of Kaitlin Laws, a PhD graduate student in the Drummond-Barbosa laboratory.