A new worm lab has been established in the Biology department at Central Michigan University. CMU is a large state university, and the Biology department is home to both undergraduate and Master’s students studying a wide variety of biological topics. The Karp lab is the newest addition to the Stress and Aging focus area within the department.

We study cell fate plasticity and the maintenance of developmental potential during quiescence. Specifically, we are interested in how progenitor cells develop normally after dauer, which poses a variable and potentially lengthy interruption to development. We are probing this question using two different cell-types: the lateral hypodermis, and the vulval precursor cells. In both cases, wild-type cell fates appear identical in larvae that develop continuously and in larvae whose development is interrupted by dauer. However, there are distinct mechanisms that underlie cell fate specification in larvae that experience dauer arrest, including enhanced microRNA activity in the hypodermal seam cells, and a daf-16-mediated promotion of cell fate plasticity in vulval precursor cells. We are taking a genetic approach to further elucidate these alternate developmental mechanisms.

Ever since I attended my first worm meeting as a student I have enjoyed being a part of the C. elegans community; I am thrilled to continue as a PI. Please don’t hesitate to contact me regarding discussions and collaborations. Graduate (Master’s) student positions are also available.

For more information see the website or the references below.