My previous research dealt with the development of the vertebrate eye. Numerous inductive interactions are known to occur between the developing retina and the lens en route to forming an eye. My research examined the expression of genes within the lens placode in the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis. Patterns of gene expression can be correlated with changes in the placode as development proceeds. Interestingly, these same genes are again upregulated in the regenerating lens, demonstrating a molecular genetic correspondence between lens development and regeneration.
My current research interests involve developmental variation in animals. Specifically, I am interested in morphological variation in vertebrates and the differences in the underlying molecular mechanisms which produce those variations. In my research, I use a group of fishes known as characids, many of which are small fishes with clearly observable variations in morphology and coloration. By comparing the embryogeneses and larval growth patterns between species, alterations to their respective developmental programs can be observed. These observations can be used to generate hypotheses which can be tested at the cellular and/or molecular levels. Currently, I am focused on development in the red-eye tetra Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae, notably the development of the jaw elements and their variations from those of the developmental model zebrafish Danio rerio.
Further details regarding my research can be found here.
Dr. Walter teaches