Research

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 and how to improve the farming of these animals.

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

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:

Perspective piece on new approaches and hypotheses to test in the evolution of biomineralisation: Cell type and gene regulatory network approaches in the evolution of spiralian biomineralisation  VA Sleight. 2023. Briefings in Functional Genomics 22 (6), 509-516

Bivalve larvae build their shell using different genes to adults: Evolutionary conservation and divergence of the transcriptional regulation of bivalve shell secretion across life-history stages A Cavallo, MS Clark, LS Peck, EM Harper, VA Sleight. 2022. Royal Society Open Science 9 (12), 221022

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.

Ectodermal Wnt signaling, cell fate determination, and polarity of the skate gill arch skeleton JM Rees, VA Sleight, SJ Clark, T Nakamura, JA Gillis. 2023. eLife 12, e79964.

4.) 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: