Biology Professor Diane Shakes was recently featured in an interview for The Node, a community page for developmental biologists. In the “People behind the papers” article, she traces the history of her academic career from biology in general, to developmental biology, to a focus on nematode spermatogenesis. Importantly, this interview highlights her international collaboration with André Pires-daSilva (University of Warwick); Gunar Fabig and Thomas Müller-Reichert (Dresden); & Jessica Feldman (Stanford).
The interview was prompted the recently published paper - Cytoskeletal variations in an asymmetric cell division support diversity in nematode sperm size and sex ratios Development (2017) 144, 3253-3263. In this paper, Dr. Shakes, along with her collaborators and former W&M undergraduate Ethan Winter, report new insights into the intriguing process that results in nematode sperm shedding their microtubule and actin cytoskeleton. The study traced the steps of cytoskeletal reorganization from the meiotic divisions until the shedding event in a variety of species with either very large or very small sperm - identifying both fundamentally conserved processes and a clade-specific variation that results in two rather four functional sperm being produced during meiosis. Read the interview.