A/Professor David Merritt
Evolutionary Developmental Biology
My major research program is an analysis of genes involved in Drosophila development, including early development of the nervous system and axonal pathfinding. Ultimately I am interested in how evolution has shaped the way insects develop. Drosophila melanogaster is a model organism for genetic studies and we can draw on the extensive genetic tools available in Drosophila to understand development, and then compare the process in related species. I use techniques such as light and confocal microscopy, immunostaining, and genetic approaches in this work. Current research projects include an investigation of the development of dermal glands in Drosophila.
Insect Physiology and Bioluminescence
Current research projects include an investigation of the regulation of bioluminescence output by the glow-worm Arachnocampa flava found in Australian caves and rainforests. The larvae of glowworms produce light from their malpighian tubules to attract prey to their sticky webs. We have carried out a phylogenetic study of Australia's glowworms and now our attention is focussing on the population genetics of cave vs rainforest populations and how they regulate their light output.
Sutherland TD, Young J, Weisman S, Hayashi CY, Merritt DJ. (2010) Insect silk: one name, many materials. Annual Review of Entomology 55: 171-188
Foote A, Sellars M, Coman G, Merritt D. (2010) Cytological defects during embryogenesis in heat-induced tetraploid Kuruma shrimp Penaeus japonicus. Arthropod Structure and Development online Jan 2010
Merritt DJ and Clarke AK (2009) Rhythmic regulation of bioluminescence in glow-worms, Arachnocampa. In Bioluminescence in Focus - A Collection of Illuminating Essays, VB Meyer-Rochow, ed.
Merritt DJ and Aotani S (2008) Circadian regulation of bioluminescence in the prey-luring glowworm, Arachnocampa flava. J Biol Rhythms 23:319-329.
Baker CH, Graham GC, Scott KD, Cameron SL, Yeates DK and Merritt DJ (2008) Distribution and phylogenetic relationships of Australian glow-worms, Arachnocampa (Diptera, Keroplatidae). Mol Phylogenet Evol 48:506-514.