In our lab we challenge basic dogmas regarding inheritance and evolution, using simple powerful genetic model organisms. In particular, using nematodes, we have shown that exposure to different challenges triggers the synthesis of heritable small RNAs which regulate genes in the progeny, resulting in phenotypic changes several generations down the road. In addition to studying epigenetic inheritance, we are developing useful parasites, investigating the neuronal basis of rational decision-making, and try to do as many crazy experiments as possible.
We focus our studies mostly, but not exclusively, on C.elegans nematodes, wonderful creatures that we find irresistible. C.elegans has a super-short generation time of just 3 days, and its nervous system is composed of just 302 neurons (and the entire “connectome” is mapped). These properties, combined with awesome genetic tools and unparalleled ease of cultivation, make the worm the ideal model organism for studying memory, and in particular heritable memory. Nevertheless, we are aware that other organisms have feelings too, and therefore try to make our studies as relevant as possible, so no one is offended. We currently study also toxoplasma parasites, and planaria flatworms, but there are often other weird animals running around the lab.