Masayuki Onishi, Principal Investigator

Assistant Professor of Biology, Duke University

My research is aimed at understanding how a diverse range of organisms go about the fundamental biological processes, such as cell division.  Is there a common core in the diversity?  What are the pathways and machineries that make each organism unique?  We currently use the green alga Chlamydomonas, which is phylogenetically close to plants but divides like animals by furrowing, yet lacks the machinery that has long been thought to be essential for cell division: the contractile actomyosin ring.  We combine cutting-edge genetics and cell biology to investigate how a cell can form a furrow without the contractile actomyosin ring, with the ultimate goal of understanding how evolution of cytokinesis happened from the prokaryotic progenitors, the first eukaryotic common ancestor, the last eukaryotic common ancestor, and then to the variety of modern species.