Prof Jonathan Hodgkin

Genetics Unit, Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford,
South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QU, U.K.
Tel: +44 (0)1865 275317 Fax: +44 (0)1865 275318

Developmental genetics, cellular morphogenesis and bacterial infection in the nematode C. elegans

The nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans is a major model system for examining many different biological problems, using a combination of genetic and molecular approaches. In 1998, sequencing of its entire genome (98 million base pairs of DNA) was essentially completed, opening up many opportunities for whole genome analysis.

My previous research has elucidated processes of sex determination and sexual development in C. elegans. The two natural sexes of this organism are the self-fertilising hermaphrodite (essentially a modified female) and the male. These differ extensively in adult anatomy, behaviour and biochemistry. Genetic analysis has identified a set of major regulatory genes that govern sexual differentiation, acting to direct development along one of two alternative sexual pathways. These genes are organized into a control hierarchy, which connects the primary sex determining signal (sex chromosome dosage) to final differentiative events such as yolk protein synthesis. Most of the key genes have been cloned and are being studied at the molecular level.

Other aspects of nematode genetics under investigation include genome structure, cell lineage control, informational suppression and germ-line immortality. Current work is focused on morphogenetic events in development, and on interactions between C. elegans and a newly discovered bacterial pathogen for this species.

Hodgkin Lab Website

Selected Publications: