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Welcome to Angus Davison's lab website.

I am an Associate Professor and Reader in Evolutionary Genetics in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nottingham. I run a research lab, teach undergraduates and supervise postgraduates. I am also the Careers Officer for the Biology group of degrees. This is my lab home page, otherwise see my University home pageLinkedIn page or @angus_davison.

In my lab, we use snails as a comparative model to understand evolutionary and developmental genetics. In one project, we are using snails to understand the left-right symmetry breaking event that takes place during early development, using both lab and field-based studies: just how is chirality determined at the molecular level? In another project, we are investigating the evolutionary origins of supergenes, using the charismatic snail Cepaea. Finally, as snails are one of the most speciose groups, we are using new technologies to understand how this biodiversity has come about, by investigating a model adaptive radiation of snails in subtropical Japan (Ogasawara). All of these projects are technology led: new DNA sequencing techniques are enabling us to do what was not possible only a few years ago.

"Nature is often complicated" is the opening line from Bryan Clarke's 1979 paper "The evolution of genetic diversity" (Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 205, 453-474).


Origins of left and right

Our article on the origins of left and right in snails and frogs is featured on the front cover of the journal (image: Ester de Roij) and in a Dispatch article written by Florian Madersprecher. The article has also featured on many different science news sites, including Nature, TheAtlantic, Wall Street Hedge, Christian Science Monitor, Smithsonian, Nottingham Post, La Razon, LaInformacion, El Economista. Snail asymmetry is also quite popular on Twitter and the article has also been rated as "exceptional" on Faculty of 1000.

Mark Blaxter and myself were also separately interviewed for Newsdrive BBC Radio Scotland the Sean Moncrieff show on Newstalk radio in Dublin, Ireland. There is also a video that the communications team at the University put together. Congratulations team!

Chiral shells to chiral cells

New paper published in Current Biology.

We are all asymmetrical – not just left or right handed in how we write, but fundamentally, inside our bodies. So are frogs, fish and snails – being left/right asymmetric appears to be the rule in animals. However, it is not at all clear how the left/right axis is consistently set up, such that while animals are always asymmetric, they are asymmetric in the same direction (e.g. heart on the left), except in very rare circumstances. In comparison, while the majority of snails are invariable like ourselves, inherited variation in shell coiling and body asymmetry, or chirality, occurs in 1-10% of all species.

Read more: Chiral shells to chiral cells

BBSRC DTP-funded PhD positions - Dec 14th deadline

Project 1 "Control and conservation of endemic species in the UK and Hawaii"

Project 2 “Extreme strength from biomineralisation in molluscs

Closing date for applications is Monday 14th December. All references must be received by Thursday 17th December. Apply here.  Successful candidates will be offered four years PhD training. Part of the first year will consist of lab rotations, with the remaining time focused on the main research project. Funding available to UK residents (fees + stipend) and EU citizens (fees only).

Read more: BBSRC DTP-funded PhD positions - Dec 14th deadline

BBSRC DTP-funded PhD position

BBSRC DTP-funded PhD position at the University of Nottingham.

"From pests to paradise: control and conservation of molluscan biodiversity".

Snails and slugs are a major crop pest, with a few introduced species causing worldwide problems. Yet, they are difficult to identify and we have little idea of how this biodiversity has come about, hindering appropriate control and conservation efforts.

Read more: BBSRC DTP-funded PhD position