Roslin Institute Chicken Embryology (RICE)


A brief description of each groups research interests

The Balic group aims to use genetic engineering/genome editing and embryonic manipulation approaches to understand the development of the avian immune system.  They are defining the extent and types of lymphoid tissues found in the chicken, the critical cells and molecules that underpin the formation of these chicken lymphoid tissues and also time-frame in which these chicken lymphoid tissues appear developmentally.

The Clinton group is interested in the regulation of gonadal development and in the molecular mechanisms that underlie the development of sexual dimorphisms in birds. This group uses a combination of the latest molecular methods and classical embryo transplantation approaches to explore these processes.

The Davey group is interested in the genotype to phenotype correlation which underpin production traits in birds relating to limb development, beak development, comb development, fertility traits such as embryonic lethal loci and quantifying the embryonic differences between chicken breeds. Consequently the research interests of the Davey lab include the function of the centrosomal protein TALPID3 and related proteins, the genetic control of diversity of centrosome type relating to ciliogenesis, the co-ordinated patterning of the anatomy of the limb, role of SHH in formation and patterning of the ulna and radius and as evolution is central to understanding all of biological diversity- the evolution of the bird foot from theropod ancestors.

The Headon group is interested in the development of the skin, feathers and scales. They explore the genetic basis for natural variation in these characters, the behaviour of embryonic cells that produce them, and combine this with mathematical models to interrogate the process of pattern formation.

The McGrew group is interested in how germ cells are first established, migrate and interact with their niche in the forming gonad. His group is interested in developing the culture conditions to propagate avian primordial germ cells indefinitely in vitro. A unique characteristic of primordial germ cells is the ability to both self-renew and de-differentiate into pluripotent cells under certain culture conditions. His group is attempting to define the mechanisms controlling this process. This unique culture system is being used to define the factors important for germ cell self-renewal and for genome editing in avian species. This research provides general insights into the establishment and maintenance of stem cell populations during development.

The Rainger group is focused on identifying and characterising novel processes involved in late eye development, health, and disease. They are revealing new candidate genes and pathways, developing a platform for investigating the impact of environment and lifestyle on developmental processes, and exploring the potential for preventative intervention. This group uses a combination of transcriptomics, live-imaging, explant culture manipulations, and in ovo gene-editing and transient transgenics to explore these processes. 

The Sang group is involved in the development of genetically-modified chickens as tools to further enhance the value of the chick embryo as a model for vertebrate development and increase basic knowledge relevant to the chicken as the major poultry production animal.

Resources & Expertise

Chicken lines / Techniques

Selected References

A list of selected relevant publications from the chicken embryology groups.