Objectives and Infrastructure
The aim of the Centre for the Molecular Genetics of Development (CMGD)
is to work towards a molecular understanding of the rules and mechanisms
that govern the behaviour of cells during development. The CMGD was established
in 2000 at the University of Adelaide through the Special Research Centre
scheme of the Australian Research Council. In 2002, the Centre has expanded
to include studies in development being carried out at the Australian National
The Centre has particular strength in the use of the most powerful model
organisms for molecular genetics, cell and developmental biology research:
the fly, Drosophila melanogaster; the zebrafish, Danio rerio;
the chick, Gallus domesticus; the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans;
the mouse, Mus musculus and the honeybee, Apis mellifera.
The CMGD has also accelerated the establishment of the coral, Acropora millepora
as a model for the investigation of genomes, evolution and developmental
mechanisms in simple animals.
A key focus of the research of the Centre is to investigate molecular
processes that underpin cell behaviour during development, particularly with
a view to new approaches to understand human disease.
- Professor Robert Saint, Dr. Hugh Campbell and colleagues are investigating
small G protein-mediated regulation of the cytoskeleton.
- Assoc. Prof. Murray Whitelaw, Dr. Dan Peet and colleagues are investigating
the molecular basis of action of the PAS/bHLH group of transcription factors
and their regulators.
- Professor Peter Rathjen Dr. Joy Rathjen and colleagues are defining
and characterising factors that influence differentiation of mouse ES cells
with a view to developing cell therapies.
- Dr. Kirk Jensen, Dr. Simon Koblar, Dr. Ryszard Maleszka and colleagues
are investigating neural development and function.
- Dr. Ruth Arkell is studying the regulation of early mouse embryogenesis.
- Assoc. Prof. Robert Richards is using perturbation of development to
understand human diseases such as cancer.
The CMGD also has a strong group of Affiliates, including Dr. Stephen
Wood, Dr. Michael Lardelli, Dr. Carolyn Behm, Dr. Klaus Matthaei, Prof. Mandyam
Srinivasan, Dr. Stan Gronthos and Dr. Paul Thomas.
The research of the CMGD is backed up by access to state of the art infrastructure
facilities, including confocal and deconvolution microscopy, microarray facilities,
tissue culture facilities and animal model laboratories for Drosophila, mouse,
honeybee and zebrafish.
In addition to its research activities, the Centre provides a focus for
developmental biology-related activities in Australia. It sponsors workshops,
courses and conferences, all aimed at strengthening the expertise of Developmental
Biologists and stimulating interest in Developmental Biology within Australia.
CMGD has access to state of the art confocal and deconvolution microscopy,
for advanced fluorescent sub-cellular imaging of proteins, and to electron
Drosophila Culture: State
of the art facilities are available for the growth and genetic and cell biological
analysis of Drosophila melanogaster. Constant temperature rooms and incubators,
tissue culture facilities, microinjection facilities for genetic transformation,
epifluorescence microscopy with cooled CCD image capture capability are all
The Adelaide Zebrafish Facility is a high capacity aquarium system for the maintenance
of mutant and transgenic lines of zebrafish (Danio rerio). The facility is based
within the University of Adelaide's Molecular Life Sciences Building on North
Terrace Campus and there are plans to develop a quarantine facility and a backup
storage facility at the Waite Campus in the near future. The zebrafish facility
includes seven day/night lighting cycles to allow collection of fertilised eggs
at various times. In 2006, the facility has begun a major upgrade aimed at improving
the service and production capabilities of the zebrafish colony, and is currently
providing zebrafish to nine research groups. For further information please
Stem cell in vitro Culture: In
addition to standard tissue culture equipment, facilities for the maintenance
of mouse ES cells and for the generation of gene knockouts in mouse ES cells
are also established.
Honeybee behavioural studies: the
Visual Sciences Group at RSBS, ANU has developed advanced techniques for
studying the behaviour of honeybees. These permit elegant tests of brain
function that pick up even subtle defects in brain development.
The CMGD and its affiliates have established a microarray facility at the
Adelaide node. Microarray technology, in parallel with the advances made
in genomics and bioinformatics, has enabled the development of high-throughput
mechanisms for profiling gene expression patterns on a global scale. Microarray-based
expression technology has a variety of applications, and may be useful for
mutational analysis, genetic mapping studies, molecular profiling of disease
states, and analysing cellular responses to environmental stimuli. The facility
is headed by Dr. Ashley Connolly.
More information about the Microarray Facility can be found here.
Members of the CMGD have collaborated with members of both the Microarray
Analysis Group in Adelaide and CBiS in