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Department of Biochemistry profile

Professor Peter Dearden

PositionProfessor and Associate Dean (Research)
DepartmentDepartment of Biochemistry
QualificationsBSc(Hons) PhD
Research summaryEvolution, development, and genome evolution

Research

Evolution and development, genome evolution

Genetic studies have helped us to understand the molecular control of development in a small number of model systems. In Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans, for example, we can trace the molecular events that pattern specific body parts all the way back to the fertilised egg. What is unclear is how these patterning processes change over evolutionary time to give us the diversity of morphology we see in organisms today.

Our lab aims to understand the molecular basis of morphological evolution by studying how the developmental pathways that regulate embryogenesis evolve to produce different animal morphologies. To study this we use two model systems, the Honeybee (Apis mellifera) and a Rotifer (Brachionus plicatilis).

The evolution of developmental pathways

To understand and model the evolution of developmental pathways we need to study how evolutionary processes affect the complex interactions of genes and proteins that pattern embryos. One of the best model systems for understanding pattern formation is segmentation in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Twenty years of study of this system has lead to an almost complete understanding of how genes and their product produce the segments of Drosophila. We are studying how this system has evolved by looking at the same segmentation process in the Honeybee. Honeybee segmentation is homologous to segmentation in Drosophila, uses many of the same genes, but is different in its morphological and molecular details. Using RNAi and transgenic Drosophila we are trying to understand how these molecular and morphological changes have come about. This study should give us a better understanding of the way in which developmental processes evolved and will perhaps lead to a predictive theory of the evolution of development.

Deep homology and the evolution of animals

Little is known about the genetic control of development in animals other than the well-studied genetic model systems Drosophila, Caenorhabditis, Zebrafish and mouse. One group of animals that are poorly researched are the Lophotrochozoa, a group of animal phyla including annelids, molluscs, platyhelminths, rotifers and others. Without understanding how these animals regulate development we are unable to develop a clear picture of the evolutionary history of animals. To study the genetic control of development in the Lophotrochozoa we are using a Rotifer, Brachionus plicatilis, as a model system. Rotifers are tiny aquatic animals that are easy to grow in the laboratory and have a short generation time. We have developed technique to examine gene expression and function and are using these to understand development in this animal.

These projects are funded by a Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Grant and a University of Otago Research Grant.

Furthur details of these projects and the Laboratory for Evolution and Development can be found on our website.

Awards

  • Peter Dearden
    2016, Best Research Paper of the Year by a BMS Researcher
  • Peter Dearden
    2014, Genetics Society of AustralAsia Ross Crozier Medal
    For outstanding contributions to genetics
  • Peter Dearden
    2014, Callaghan Medal for science communication
    For the outreach activities of Genetics Otago that he helped form and his involvement in communicating his genetics research on honey bees with the beekeeping industry and the public.
  • Peter Dearden and Dr Elizabeth Duncan
    2010, Otago School of Medical Sciences Best Paper Award

Publications

Cridge, A. G., Lovegrove, M. R., Skelly, J. G., Taylor, S. E., Petersen, G. E. L., Cameron, R. C., & Dearden, P. K. (2017). The honeybee as a model insect for developmental genetics. Genesis. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/dvg.23019

Pires, C. V., de Paula Freitas, F. C., Cristino, A. S., Dearden, P. K., & Simões, Z. L. P. (2016). Transcriptome analysis of honeybee (Apis mellifera) haploid and diploid embryos reveals early zygotic transcription during cleavage. PLoS ONE, 11(1), e0146447. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0146447

Cridge, A. G., Dearden, P. K., & Brownfield, L. R. (2016). Convergent occurrence of the developmental hourglass in plant and animal embryogenesis? Annals of Botany, 117(5), 833-843. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcw024

Duncan, E. J., Hyink, O., & Dearden, P. K. (2016). Notch signalling mediates reproductive constraint in the adult worker honeybee. Nature Communications, 7, 12427. doi: 10.1038/ncomms12427

Smith, L. M., Parr-Brownlie, L. C., Duncan, E. J., Black, M. A., Gemmell, N. J., Dearden, P. K., & Reynolds, J. N. J. (2016). Striatal mRNA expression patterns underlying peak dose L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia in the 6-OHDA hemiparkinsonian rat. Neuroscience, 324, 238-251. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.03.012

Chapter in Book - Research

Osborne, A. J., Duncan, E. J., Cridge, A. G., & Dearden, P. K. (2014). Epigenetics and the maternal germline. In T. Tollefsbol (Ed.), Transgenerational epigenetics: Evidence and debate. (pp. 27-41). London, UK: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-405944-3.00004-0

Dearden, P. K., Duncan, E. J., & Wilson, M. J. (2010). The honeybee Apis mellifera. In Emerging model organisms: A laboratory manual (Vol. 2). (pp. 223-246). Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Press.

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Journal - Research Article

Cridge, A. G., Lovegrove, M. R., Skelly, J. G., Taylor, S. E., Petersen, G. E. L., Cameron, R. C., & Dearden, P. K. (2017). The honeybee as a model insect for developmental genetics. Genesis. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/dvg.23019

Pires, C. V., de Paula Freitas, F. C., Cristino, A. S., Dearden, P. K., & Simões, Z. L. P. (2016). Transcriptome analysis of honeybee (Apis mellifera) haploid and diploid embryos reveals early zygotic transcription during cleavage. PLoS ONE, 11(1), e0146447. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0146447

Smith, L. M., Parr-Brownlie, L. C., Duncan, E. J., Black, M. A., Gemmell, N. J., Dearden, P. K., & Reynolds, J. N. J. (2016). Striatal mRNA expression patterns underlying peak dose L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia in the 6-OHDA hemiparkinsonian rat. Neuroscience, 324, 238-251. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.03.012

Duncan, E. J., Hyink, O., & Dearden, P. K. (2016). Notch signalling mediates reproductive constraint in the adult worker honeybee. Nature Communications, 7, 12427. doi: 10.1038/ncomms12427

Cridge, A. G., Dearden, P. K., & Brownfield, L. R. (2016). Convergent occurrence of the developmental hourglass in plant and animal embryogenesis? Annals of Botany, 117(5), 833-843. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcw024

Paten, A. M., Duncan, E. J., Pain, S. J., Peterson, S. W., Kenyon, P. R., Blair, H. T., & Dearden, P. K. (2015). Functional development of the adult ovine mammary gland: Insights from gene expression profiling. BMC Genomics, 16, 748. doi: 10.1186/s12864-015-1947-9

Sharpe, M. L., Dearden, P. K., Gimenez, G., & Krause, K. L. (2015). Comparative RNA seq analysis of the New Zealand glowworm Arachnocampa luminosa reveals bioluminescence-related genes. BMC Genomics, 16, 825. doi: 10.1186/s12864-015-2006-2

Sadd, B. M., Barribeau, S. M., Bloch, G., de Graaf, D. C., Dearden, P., Elsik, C. G., … Cridge, A. G., … Duncan, E., … Irvine, F., … Leask, M., Lockett, G. A., … Nair, A., … Blommaert, J., … Worley, K. C. (2015). The genomes of two key bumblebee species with primitive eusocial organization. Genome Biology, 16, 76. doi: 10.1186/s13059-015-0623-3

Dearden, P. K. (2015). Origin and evolution of the enhancer of split complex. BMC Genomics, 16, 712. doi: 10.1186/s12864-015-1926-1

Cridge, A. G., Leask, M. P., Duncan, E. J., & Dearden, P. K. (2015). What do studies of insect polyphenisms tell us about nutritionally-triggered epigenomic changes and their consequences? Nutrients, 7(3), 1787-1797. doi: 10.3390/nu7031787

Ellisdon, A. M., Reboul, C. F., Panjikar, S., Huynh, K., Oelling, C. A., Winter, K. L., … Dearden, P. K., … McGowan, S. (2015). Stonefish toxin defines an ancient branch of the perforin-like superfamily. PNAS, 112(50), 15360-15365. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1507622112

Duncan, E. J., Gluckman, P. D., & Dearden, P. K. (2014). Epigenetics, plasticity, and evolution: How do we link epigenetic change to phenotype? Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular & Developmental Evolution, 322(4), 208-220. doi: 10.1002/jez.b.22571

Paten, A. M., Paine, S.-J., Peterson, S. W., Blair, H. T., Kenyon, P. R., Dearden, P. K., & Duncan, E. J. (2014). Identification of reference genes for RT-qPCR in ovine mammary tissue during late-pregnancy, lactation and in response to maternal nutritional programming. Physiological Genomics, 46, 560-570. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00030.2014

Dearden, P. K. (2014). Expression pattern of empty-spiracles, a conserved head-patterning gene, in honeybee (Apis mellifera) embryos. Gene Expression Patterns, 15(2), 142-148. doi: 10.1016/j.gep.2014.06.003

Chipman, A. D., Ferrier, D. E. K., Brena, C., Qu, J., Hughes, D. S. T., Schröder, R., … Dearden, P. K., … Duncan, E. J., … Richards, S. (2014). The first myriapod genome sequence reveals conservative arthropod gene content and genome organisation in the centipede Strigamia maritima. PLoS Biology, 12(11), e1002005. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002005

Kenny, N. J., Namigai, E. K. O., Dearden, P. K., Hui, J. H. L., Grande, C., & Shimeld, S. M. (2014). The lophotrochozoan TGF-β signalling cassette: Diversifcation and conservation in a key signalling pathway. International Journal of Developmental Biology, 58(6-8), 533-549. doi: 10.1387/ijdb.140080nk

Wilson, M. J., Kenny, N. J., & Dearden, P. K. (2014). Components of the dorsal-ventral pathway also contribute to anterior-posterior patterning in honeybee embryos (Apis mellifera). EvoDevo, 5, 11. doi: 10.1186/2041-9139-5-11

Wilson, M. J., & Dearden, P. K. (2013). RNA localization in the honeybee (Apis mellifera) oocyte reveals insights about the evolution of RNA localization mechanisms. Developmental Biology, 375(2), 193-201. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2013.01.001

Duncan, E. J., Leask, M. P., & Dearden, P. K. (2013). The pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) genome encodes two divergent early developmental programs. Developmental Biology, 377, 262-274. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2013.01.036

Kenny, N. J., & Dearden, P. K. (2013). NMDA receptor expression and C terminus structure in the rotifer Brachionus plicatilis and long-term potentiation across the Metazoa. Invertebrate Neuroscience, 13, 125-134. doi: 10.1007/s10158-013-0154-0

Hyink, O., Laas, F., & Dearden, P. K. (2013). Genetic tests for alleles of complementary-sex-determiner to support honeybee breeding programmes. Apidologie, 44(3), 306-313. doi: 10.1007/s13592-012-0181-6

Cameron, R. C., Duncan, E. J., & Dearden, P. K. (2013). Stable reference genes for the measurement of transcript abundance during larval caste development in the honeybee. Apidologie, 44(4), 357-366. doi: 10.1007/s13592-012-0187-0

Cameron, R. C., Duncan, E. J., & Dearden, P. K. (2013). Biased gene expression in early honeybee larval development. BMC Genomics, 14, 903. doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-14-903

Duncan, E. J., Benton, M. A., & Dearden, P. K. (2013). Canonical terminal patterning is an evolutionary novelty. Developmental Biology, 377, 245-261. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2013.02.010

Wilson, M. J., & Dearden, P. K. (2012). Pair-rule gene orthologues have unexpected maternal roles in the honeybee (Apis mellifera). PLoS ONE, 7(9), e46490. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046490

Zondag, L., Dearden, P. K., & Wilson, M. J. (2012). Deep sequencing and expression of microRNAs from early honeybee (Apis mellifera) embryos reveals a role in regulating early embryonic patterning. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 12, 211. doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-12-211

Chua, J. P. S., Wallace, E. J. S., Yardley, J. A., Duncan, E. J., Dearden, P. K., & Summerfield, T. C. (2012). Gene expression indicates a zone of heterocyst differentiation within the thallus of the cyanolichen Pseudocyphellaria crocata. New Phytologist, 196(3), 862-872. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2012.04272.x

Wilson, M. J., & Dearden, P. K. (2011). Diversity in insect axis formation: Two orthodenticle genes and hunchback act in anterior patterning and influence dorsoventral organization in the honeybee (Apis mellifera). Development, 138(16), 3497-3507. doi: 10.1242/dev.067926

Wilson, M. J., Abbott, H., & Dearden, P. K. (2011). The evolution of oocyte patterning in insects: Multiple cell-signaling pathways are active during honeybee oogenesis and are likely to play a role in axis patterning. Evolution & Development, 13(2), 127-137. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-142X.2011.00463.x

Wilson, M. J., McKelvey, B. H., van der Heide, S., & Dearden, P. K. (2010). Notch signaling does not regulate segmentation in the honeybee, Apis mellifera. Development Genes & Evolution, 220(7-8), 179-190. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2010.02100.x

Wilson, M. J., Havler, M., & Dearden, P. K. (2010). Giant, Krüppel, and caudal act as gap genes with extensive roles in patterning the honeybee embryo. Developmental Biology, 339(1), 200-211. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.12.015

Shigenobu, S., Bickel, R. D., Brisson, J. A., Butts, T., Chang, C.-C., Christiaens, O., … Duncan, E. J., … Smith, J., … Wilson, M. J., Dearden, P. K., & Stern, D. L. (2010). Comprehensive survey of developmental genes in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum: Frequent lineage-specific duplications and losses of developmental genes. Insect Molecular Biology, 19(Suppl. 2), 47-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2583.2009.00944.x

Smith, J. M., Cridge, A. G., & Dearden, P. K. (2010). Germ cell specification and ovary structure in the rotifer Brachionus plicatilis. EvoDevo, 1, 5. doi: 10.1186/2041-9139-1-5

Duncan, E. J., & Dearden, P. K. (2010). Evolution of a genomic regulatory domain: The role of gene co-option and gene duplication in the enhancer of split complex. Genome Research, 20, 917-928. doi: 10.1101/gr.104794.109

The International Aphid Genomics Consortium, including Smith, J., Wilson, M., Dearden, P., & Duncan, E. J. (2010). Genome sequence of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum. PLoS Biology, 8(2), e1000313. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000313

Specht, D., Wu, S.-b., Turner, P., Dearden, P., Koentgen, F., Wolfrum, U., Maw, M., … tom Dieck, S. (2009). Effects of presynaptic mutations on a postsynaptic Cacna1s calcium channel colocalized with mGluR6 at mouse photoreceptor ribbon synapses. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 50(2), 505-515. doi: 10.1167/iovs.08-2758

Dearden, P. K., Duncan, E. J., & Wilson, M. J. (2009). Fixation and storage of honeybee (Apis mellifera) tissues. Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, 4(6). doi: 10.1101/pdb.prot5224

Dearden, P. K., Duncan, E. J., & Wilson, M. J. (2009). Immunohistochemistry on honeybee (Apis mellifera) embryos. Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, 4(6). doi: 10.1101/pdb.prot5227

Dearden, P. K., Duncan, E. J., & Wilson, M. J. (2009). In situ hybridization of sectioned honeybee (Apis mellifera) tissues. Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, 4(6). doi: 10.1101/pdb.prot5226

Dearden, P. K., Duncan, E. J., & Wilson, M. J. (2009). Rna interference (RNAi) in honeybee (Apis mellifera) embryos. Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, 4(6). doi: 10.1101/pdb.prot5228

Dearden, P. K., Duncan, E. J., & Wilson, M. J. (2009). The honeybee Apis mellifera. Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, 4(6). doi: 10.1101/pdb.emo123

Dearden, P. K., Duncan, E. J., & Wilson, M. J. (2009). Whole-mount in situ hybridization of honeybee (Apis mellifera) tissues. Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, 4(6). doi: 10.1101/pdb.prot5225

Wilson, M. J., & Dearden, P. K. (2009). Tailless patterning functions are conserved in the honeybee even in the absence of Torso signaling. Developmental Biology, 335(1), 276-287. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.09.002

Young, J. M., Juengel, J. L., Dodds, K. G., Laird, M., Dearden, P. K., McNeilly, A. S., … Wilson, T. (2008). The activin receptor-like kinase 6 Booroola mutation enhances suppressive effects of bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2), BMP4, BMP6 and growth and differentiation factor-9 on FSH release from ovine primary pituitary cell cultures. Journal of Endocrinology, 196(2), 251-261. doi: 10.1677/JOE-07-0148

Duncan, E. J., Wilson, M. J., Smith, J. M., & Dearden, P. K. (2008). Evolutionary origin and genomic organisation of runt-domain containing genes in arthropods. BMC Genomics, 9, 588. doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-9-558

Wilson, M. J., & Dearden, P. K. (2008). Evolution of the insect Sox genes. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 8, 120. doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-8-120

Dearden, P. K. (2006). Germ cell development in the Honeybee (Apis mellifera); Vasa and Nanos expression. BMC Developmental Biology, 6, 6. doi: 10.1186/1471-213X-6-6

Dearden, P. K., Wilson, M. J., Sablan, L., Osborne, P. W., Havler, M., McNaughton, E., … Beye, M. (2006). Patterns of conservation and change in honey bee developmental genes. Genome Research, 16(11), 1376-1384. doi: 10.1101/gr.5108606

Sabater-Muñoz, B., Legeai, F., Rispe, C., Bonhomme, J., Dearden, P., Dossat, C., … Tagu, D. (2006). Large-scale gene discovery in the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum (Hemiptera). Genome Biology, 7(R21). doi: 10.1186/gb-2006-7-3-r21

The Honeybee Genome Sequencing Consortium, including Beggs, K. T., Mercer, A. R., Dearden, P. K., & Wilson, M. J. (2006). Insights into social insects from the genome of the honeybee Apis mellifera. Nature, 443, 931-949.

Osborne, P. W., & Dearden, P. K. (2005). Expression of Pax group III genes in the honeybee (Apis mellifera). Development Genes & Evolution, 215(10), 499-508. doi: 10.1007/s00427-005-0008-9

Hemara-Wahanui, A., Berjukow, S., Hope, C. I., Dearden, P. K., Wu, S.-B., Wilson-Wheeler, J., … Maw, M. A. (2005). A CACNA1F mutation identified in an X-linked retinal disorder shifts the voltage dependence of CaV1.4 channel activation. PNAS, 102(21), 7553-7558.

Osborne, P., & Dearden, P. K. (2005). Non-radioactive in-situ hybridisation to honeybee embryos and ovaries. Apidologie, 36, 113-118.

Dearden, P., Grbic, M., & Donly, C. (2003). Vasa expression and germ-cell specification in the spider mite Tetranychus urticae. Development Genes & Evolution, 212, 599-603.

Dearden, P., Donly, C., & Grbic, M. (2002). Expression of pair-rule gene homologues in a chelicerate: Early patterning of the two-spotted spider mite Tetranychus urticae. Development, 129, 5461-5472.

Chang, C.-C., Dearden, P., & Akam, M. (2002). Germ line development in the grasshopper Schistocerca gregaria: vasa as a marker. Developmental Biology, 252, 100-118.

Lawrence, N., Dearden, P., Hartley, D., Roose, J., Clevers, H., & Martinez-Arias, A. A. (2001). Groucho protein that lacks the WD40 repeats modulates Wingless signalling during the development and patterning of the wing in Drosophila. International Journal of Developmental Biology, 44(7), 749-756.

Dearden, P., & Akam, M. (2001). Early embryo patterning in the grasshopper, Schistocerca gregaria; wingless, dpp and caudal expression. Development, 128(18), 3435-3444.

Dearden, P., & Akam, M. (2000). Segmentation in silico. Nature, 406(6792), 131-132.

Dearden, P., Falciani, F., & Akam, M. (2000). Maternal and early Zygotic expression of the Hox3/zen gene of the grasshopper Schistocerca gregaria. Evolution & Development, 2(5), 261-270.

Dearden, P., & Akam, M. (2000). A role for Fringe in segment morphogenesis but not segment formation in the grasshopper, Schistocerca gregaria. Development Genes & Evolution, 210(7), 329-336.

Dearden, P., & Akam, M. (1999). Developmental evolution: Axial patterning in insects. Current Biology, 26(9), R591-R594.

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Journal - Research Other

Duncan, E. J., Johnson, T. K., Whisstock, J. C., Warr, C. G., & Dearden, P. K. (2014). Capturing embryonic development from metamorphosis: How did the terminal patterning signalling pathway of Drosophila evolve? Current Opinion in Insect Science, 1, 45-51. doi: 10.1016/j.cois.2014.04.007

Macaulay, E. C., Donovan, E. L., Leask, M. P., Bloomfield, F. H., Vickers, M. H., Dearden, P. K., … and on behalf of the Gravida International College Summit Team. (2014). The importance of early life in childhood obesity and related diseases: A report from the 2014 Gravida Strategic Summit. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health & Disease, 5(6), 398-407. doi: 10.1017/S2040174414000488

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