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David L. Baillie, Professor Emeritus

B.Sc., University of British Columbia
M.Sc., University of British Columbia
Ph.D., University of Connecticut

Phone: (778) 782-6590
Office: SSB 7116
Email: baillie@sfu.ca
Research website

Research Interest

Research in my laboratory has been directed towards understanding the genomic organization of a developmentally complex organism. Over the past 20 years, we have been taking a forward genetic approach to identify and map genes using mutated genetic strains. As a consequence of these analyses, we identified nearly 500 essential genes. In parallel, we began investigating the evolutionary conservation of a related nematode. C. briggsae is almost indisguishable from C. elegans phenotypically, as assayed by the morphology of the rays in the male tail, a characteristic used to distinguish the two species. Our estimates suggest that separation of the two species occurred 23 - 40 million years ago. Although conservation of DNA sequences is largely confined to protein coding regions, conservation of short flanking sequences has been shown to correlate with promoter expression studies in the case of some genes.

My research on the genomic organization of Caenorhabditis elegans has taken several interwoven paths.

  1. Determination of the number of genes is required for the survival of a complex eukaryote. I have used classical genetics to address this question and have estimated that C. elegans has about 4000-5000 essential genes.
  2. Determination of the essential component of this animal's genome.
  3. Investigation of the organization of genes along a chromosomes and the relationship to gene function and expression.
  4. Development of tools that makes possible the genetic exploitation of the sequenced C. elegans genome. We have developed two major types of tools; a.) Balancers for maintaining genetic deletions (underproducers); and b.) Transgenic strains which carry extra copies of genes (overproducers).
  5. Use of sequence conservation between C. elegans and other species to deduce regulatory sequences and to study the effect of selection on the arrangement of genes.
  6. Use of the genomic sequence of C. elegans as a tool in the investigation of the human genome.
  7. Development of methods which will improve high throughput production genomics. Current efforts in mapping and sequencing will soon facilitate the high throughput analysis of gene function. I look forward to the challenges that this phase will bring.