The Rajakumar lab integrates approaches in cell biology, molecular biology, sociobiology, genetics, epigenetics, phylogenetics, fieldwork, and evolutionary biology, in order to address fundamental questions at the interface of ecology, evolution, and developmental biology (Eco-Evo-Devo). The main theme of our lab is: how do environmental factors act on developmental processes, and how does the variation generated by this interaction lead to the evolution of biodiversity observed in nature.
Sanger & Rajakumar, Biological Reviews (2019)
The Rajakumar lab works on a range of vertebrate and invertebrate organisms. In particular, we use many species of ants as a ‘model clade’ within a high-resolution comparative framework, to understand how genes and environmental factors interact, and further extend our mechanistic insights by leveraging the classic model organism Drosophila melanogaster. More generally, what are the developmental mechanisms that generate phenotypic variation, do their functions extend into adulthood in a physiological context, and how have they evolved. Furthermore, these developmental mechanisms are highly conserved ancient cellular pathways. Therefore by understanding how these processes change during development, we can expand our knowledge of how variation emerges in both an adaptive evolutionary and a maladaptive disease context.