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Dr Andre Pires da Silva

Associate Professor (Reader)


Phone: 024 765 73329

Office: MB13

Pires da Silva webpage

Research Clusters

Cells & Development

Environment & Ecology

Vacancies and Opportunities

For PhD and postdoctoral opportunities, and interest in potential collaborations, please contact me at the above email address.

Research Interests

We have three major lines of research:

  1. Inheritance: some animals produce different types of offspring, depending on what they experience. For example, mothers that experience stress can produce stress-resistant offspring. Using a roundworm as model system, we are studying how specific sensorial cues experienced by the mother can result in different types of offspring.
  2. Ageing: Recent research has shown that the ageing process can be delayed or even reversed. Using the roundworm model system C. elegans, we found conditions in which they can live 5 times the normal lifespan. We are studying which genes are required for this lifespan extension.
  3. Asymmetric cell division: During embryonic development, cells become different from each to generate different tissues. Usually, neighbouring cells communicate with each other to produce those differences. We discovered a potentially new way for how cells divide to make two types of cells. This mechanism does not rely on communications with other cells but is intrinsic to the dividing cell. We aim to uncover which intrinsic signal mediate the process of asymmetric cell division to generate two different daughter cells.

Research: Technical Summary

Non-Mendelian inheritance: Somatic cells usually do not communicate with germ cells to influence the phenotype of the next generation. Thus, if you cut the tail of a mouse, its offspring will still have a tail of normal size. However, many examples have been found recently that contradict this dogma. One such example is the nematode Auanema freiburgensis, which can smell stress signals that induce the germline to produce stress-resistant offspring. We are uncovering the mechanisms by which the sensory neurons relay environmental signals to the germline to generate different kinds of offspring.

Ageing: Diet and genetic makeup are known to influence the ageing process. By manipulating these variables, the lifespan and health span of the nematode C. elegans can be extended significantly. We are studying the mechanisms that mediate the extension of lifespan and health span.

Asymmetric cell division: An extreme example of asymmetric cell division is female meiosis, in which consecutive asymmetric cell divisions give rise to a large cell that becomes the oocyte and smaller ones that are discarded as polar bodies. We are studying another extreme asymmetric cell division that occurs in the males of the Auanema nematodes, to give rise to a functional and non-functional sperm. We are interested in the evolution, ecology and cell biology mechanisms underlying this type of cell division in males.

  • 1994 -1999- Ph.D. in Developmental Biology, Universitat Gottingen and Max Planck Institute for biophysical Chemistry, Gottingen, Germany
  • 1993-1994 Diploma in Biology, Universitat Heidelberg and European Molecular Biology
    Laboratories, Heidelberg, Germany.
  • 1988-1992 Bachelor's degree in Biology, Universidade de Brasilia, Brasilia, Brazil.