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Associate Professor Caroline Beck


Phone 64-3-479-4109

Lab website

Dr Caroline Beck


Research Interests  

Tadpoles expressing GFP (green) next to their wild type siblings (yellow)

As a developmental biologist, I am interested in how a single cell, the fertilised egg, progressively acquires the form an function of its parents over time by complex  gene regulation. My lab is especially interested in the development of organs such as the vertebrate limb and eye and in the ability of some vertebrates to regenerate these organs. We use the South African Clawed frog Xenopus laevis as well as the axolotl Ambystoma mexicanum as model organisms to ask questions about how complex structures are built and rebuilt during embryogenesis and regeneration following injury.

For more information about my research please see the Beck lab website

Current Postgraduate Students

  • Sulagna Banerjee (PhD Genetics) A tadpole model of epilepsy
  • Prashath Karunaraj (PhD Genetics) How noggin-like proteins have evolved and how their functions have changed (with Peter Dearden, Biochemistry)
  • Morgan Jones (MSc Genetics) Global demethylation of blastema stem cells during zebrafish tail regeneration reveals new prospects for epigenetic study in regeneration (with Tim Hore, Anatomy)
  • Fernando Miguez (MSc) Identifying the control mechanisms of secondary neurulation in Xenopus laevis
  • Matt Reily-Bell (MSc) Understanding the molecular consequences of RECQL4 disruption in skeletal development (with Louise Bicknell, Pathology)
  • Thomas Devine (BSc Hons Microbiology) The microbiome and regeneration (with Xochitl Morgan, Microbiology)

Current and Potential Future Projects

  • Investigating spontaneous neural tube assembly as a new regenerative strategy for spinal cord regeneration
  • Searching for evidence of morphogen gradients in developing and regenerating limbs
  • New methods for functional analysis of newly identified regeneration-specific genes
  • Amphibian limb development and patterning

Recent Research Students

  • Thomas Bishop (PhD Genetics 2018) The molecular mechanism of Xenopus regeneration and its activation in mammals.
  • Matt Reily-Bell (BSc Hons Genetics 2017) Crispr/cas9 disruption of cdt1 in Xenopus
  • Jessica Mckenzie (BSc Hons Genetics 2016) Investigating the evolution of Noggin-like genes and their relationship with axis patterning pathways.
  • Jack Foster (PGDipSci Genetics 2015) Role of calpain 8 in limb development and regeneration
  • Paulomi Mehta (PGDipSci Genetics 2015) Genetic regulation of proximodistal limb patterning by Fgfs.
  • Elisha Wang (PhD Genetics 2014): Roles and expression of Fgf/RTK signaling modulators, Sproutys and Sulfs, in Xenopus limb development and regeneration.
  • Samuel Keenan (MSc Genetics 2014) The influence of gremlin-induced BMP inhibition and subsequent associated genetic interactions in Xenopus laevis limb development.
  • Jessica Bromell (BSc Hons Genetics 2014) The roles of retinoic acid response element-adjacent genes in Xenopus laevis development
  • John McNally (MSc Genetics 2013) The role of Retinoic acid as a Morphogenic agent in Xenopus laevis Early Axis Formation and Limb Development
  • Jeremy Lynn (PGDipSci Genetics 2013) Characterization of Gremlin induced BMP inhibition during limb development
  • Amy Taylor (PhD Genetics 2013): The Role of Epigenetics in Amphibian Regeneration
  • Mythrayee Sundaresan (PGDipSci Anat 2012) The role of lgals9c-b and Xgalectin-IIa in the formation of pre-cartilage condensations during Xenopus laevis limb development
  • Sam Capon (MSc Genetics 2011) Characterising Cfm2, a novel gene involved in vertebrate development.
  • Elisha Wang (MSc Genetics 2011) Revised function of the BMP inhibitor Gremlin in Xenopus limb development and its potential in hindlimb regeneration.

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Beck, C. (2017). Recovering what was lost: Can morphogens scale to enable regeneration? In D. M. Gardiner (Ed.), Regenerative engineering and developmental biology: Principles and applications. (pp. 207-227). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Taylor, A., Beck, C., & Bicknell, L. (2017). Modelling rare disease in Xenopus laevis using CRISPR/Cas9. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Genetics Society of Australasia (GSA) with the New Zealand Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (NZSBMB). 689. Retrieved from

Jones, M., Beck, C., & Hore, T. (2017). The role of DNA hypomethylation in Zebrafish cell reprogramming during tail fin regeneration. Proceedings of the University of Otago Student Research Symposium: Te Wānaka Rakahau: Ākoka. (pp. 40-41). Retrieved from

Keenan, S. R., & Beck, C. W. (2016). Xenopus limb bud morphogenesis. Developmental Dynamics, 245(3), 233-243. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.24351

Beck, C. W. (2016). Manipulating carbohydrate metabolism to enhance regeneration. BioEssays, 38(12), 1192. doi: 10.1002/bies.201600196

More publications...