The evolution of gene networks using a systems biology approach.
Our lab is interested in the systems biology and evolution of epigenetic switches (bistability) and clocks (oscillators) in gene regulatory networks, two functions that are essential for proper patterning, cell proliferation, and cellular differentiation in biological systems. We take an interdisciplinary approach (experiment and theory; biology and physics; systems and synthetic biology) to understand the diverse molecular and evolutionary mechanisms by which epigenetic memory and oscillation have evolved in gene networks.
Our model organism is budding yeast, one of the best eukaryotes for a systems biology approach to study the evolution of gene networks. We measure and perturb the in vivo dynamics of gene networks using flow cytometry, time-lapse fluorescence microscopy, and yeast molecular genetics. We further combine this quantitative biology approach with comparative genomics to glean how novel dynamics and function have evolved in yeast gene networks.