1.) Unlocking calcium pathways in a changing world

Our climate is changing and so, too, are our oceans, they are warming and becoming more acidic. Marine calcifiers, such as molluscs, are under threat as the ability to extract carbonate ions to incorporate into shell may be compromised as oceanic pH drops and temperatures soar. We are using environmentally and economically relevant species to understand mechanisms of biomineralisation in order to make predictions on how these important calcifiers will fare in a changing world.

Key Publications:

Harnessing the power of machine learning to understand the genetic regulation of shell production in the Antarctic clam: Computationally predicted gene regulatory networks in molluscan biomineralization identify extracellular matrix production and ion transportation pathways VA Sleight, P Antczak, F Falciani, MS Clark. 2020. Bioinformatics 36 (5), 1326-1332

Discovering the key downstream effectors in biomineralisation in the Antarctic clam: An Antarctic molluscan biomineralisation tool-kit VA Sleight, B Marie, DJ Jackson, EA Dyrynda, A Marie, MS Clark. 2016. Scientific reports 6, 36978

Identifying molecular pathways underpinning the phenotypic acclimation to environmental change in an important temperate benthic bivalve: Cellular stress responses to chronic heat shock and shell damage in temperate Mya truncata VA Sleight, LS Peck, EA Dyrynda, VJ Smith, MS Clark. 2018. Cell Stress and Chaperones 23 (5), 1003-1017


NBAF1227 – Methylation analysis with age in Antarctic Clams – £9.3k. Dr Victoria A. Sleight = Co.I.

2.) Molluscan biomineralization: development, repair and evolution

The slipper snail genus Crepidula is an emerging model system to study developmental questions in the Spiralia. We are using slipper snails as a model to to dissect the molecular and cellular basis of molluscan biomineralisation and repair. By adopting a comparative approach within the Crepidula genus, we will also yield insight on the microevolution of these processes.

Key Publications:

Watch this space, research ongoing….


Royal Society Research Grant 2021 -£20k

Royal Society of Edinburgh Covid-19 Kickstart Grant 2021 – £21.7k

Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund 2021 – £19.7k

Whitman Center Early Career Fellowship 2019 – $14k “Molluscan biomineralization:development, repair and evolution: phase II” The Marine Biological Laboratory, U.S.A.

The Musgrave Fund – £5k Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, U.K.

Whitman Center Early Career Fellowship 2018 – $14k “Molluscan biomineralization: development, repair and evolution: phase I ” The Marine Biological Laboratory, U.S.A.

Junior Research Fellowship – £800 research funds per year for three years, Wolfson College Cambridge

The Malacological Society Early Career Research Grant – £1.5k The Malacological Society of London

3.) Development of gill arch appendages: insights into the origin of paired fins

The Sleight Lab continues to collaborate with the Gillis Lab on projects relating to the evolution of the vertebrate body plan using cartilaginous fishes.  

Key Publications:

Embryonic origin and serial homology of gill arches and paired fins in the skate, Leucoraja erinacea VA Sleight and JA Gillis. 2020. eLife 9, e60635

Conserved and unique transcriptional features of pharyngeal arches in the skate (Leucoraja erinacea) and evolution of the jaw C Hirschberger, VA Sleight, KE Criswell, SJ Clark and JA Gillis.  2021. Mol. Biol. Evol. 38: 4187-4204

Big insight from the little skate: Leucoraja erinacea as a developmental model system JA Gillis et al (incl VA Sleight). 2022. In Current Topics in Developmental Biology (Vol. 147, pp. 595-630). Academic Press.

3.) Outreach & Communications

In the Sleight Lab we actively engage in outreach and communication to make our science accessible for everyone. During the covid-19 pandemic we took part in two virtual events: