Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Daniel Medeiros

Second Advisor

David Stock

Third Advisor

Michael Klymkowsky

Fourth Advisor

Kristin Artinger

Fifth Advisor

Andrew Martin

Abstract

Neural crest cells play a major role in vertebrate development and evolution. Both the appearance and diversification of these cells have been evoked as a major driver of vertebrate success. This cell type is unique because it is capable of contributing to extremely diverse tissues: structural tissues like cartilage and bone, signal transducing cells of the peripheral nervous system, and multiple types of pigment cells found throughout the body -- in every vertebrate hair, feather, and scale. Elaborations of the biological systems that rely on these cell types were critical in the specialization of vertebrates, as evidenced in fossil and extant animals and biological systems. The present work aims to identify the cellular mechanisms responsible for both the appearance of multiple neural crest cell types, as well as lineage-specific modifications that have been made within cell types in order to achieve the vast array of vertebrate diversity.

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