Lab for Evo Devo




Marsden Fund


Betta Bees







Professor Peter K. Dearden.

My research interests are in evolution and development, particularly in trying to understand how, at the molecular level, morphology evolves in identifying ancient and conserved developmental programs and undersatnding the molecular basis of developmenta plasticity.

I did my undergraduate degree at Victoria University of Wellington, in New Zealand and my PhD in the Biochemistry Department, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (University of London) on Drosophila neurogenesis.

I completed a Post-doc in the laboratory of Prof. Michael Akam in the Museum of Zoology, Zoology department, Cambridge University in evolution and development in arthropods. I then did a short post-doc jointly between the Zoology Department, University of Western Ontario and the Southern Crop Protection and Food Research Center, London, Ontario, on functional genomics in the two-spotted spider mite.

Since returning to New Zealand in 2002, I have set up the Laboratory for Evolution and Development and begun research into the evolution of segmentation mechanisms in insects and the development of the rotifer Brachionus plicatilis. I also study the genetics of polyphenisms in bees and Aphids and Sheep and support the bee industry with genetic solutions to support bee breeding and health (Supported by AgMARDT and the Sustainable Farming Fund).

I am the Director of Genetics Otago and Associate Dean of Research for Health Sciences.

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Duncan, E.J, Hyink, O, Dearden, P.K (2016) Notch Signalling Mediates Reproductive Constraint in the Adult Worker Honeybee. Nature Communications 7,12427 doi:10.1038/ncomms12427

Smith, L.M, Parr-Brownlie, J.C, Duncan, E.J, Black, M.A, Gemmell, N.J, Dearden, P.K, Reynolds, J.N.J (2016) Striatal mRNA expression patterns underlying peak dose L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia in the 6-OHDA hemiparkinsonian rat. Neuroscience, 324:238-51.

Cridge, A.C., Dearden, P.K., Brownfield, L. (2016) Convergent occurrence of the developmental hourglass in plant and animal embryogenesis. Annals of Botany, In press.

Pires C.V., Freitas F.C.dP., Cristino A.S., Dearden P.K., Simões Z.L.P. (2016) Transcriptome Analysis of Honeybee (Apis Mellifera) Haploid and Diploid Embryos Reveals Early Zygotic Transcription during Cleavage. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0146447. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0146447

Ellisdon, A.M, Reboul, C.F, Panjikar,S, Huynh, K, Oellig, C.A, Winter, K.L, Dunstone, M.A, Hodgson, W.C, Seymour, J, Dearden, P.K, Tweten, R.K, Whisstock, J.C, McGowan, S. (2015) “Stonefish toxin defines an ancient branch of the perforin-like superfamily” PNAS  doi:10.1073/pnas.1507622112

Sharpe, M.L, Dearden, P.K, Gimenez, G, Krause, K.L (2015) “Comparative RNA seq analysis of the New Zealand glowworm Arachnocampa luminosa reveals bioluminescence-related genes” BMC Genomics 16:825 

Dearden, P.K (2015) “Origin and evolution of the enhancer of split complex" BMC Genomics 16:712 

Paten, A.M, Duncan, E.J, Pain, S.J, Peterson, S.W, Kenyon, P.R, Blair, H.T, Dearden, P.K (2015) “Functional development of the adult ovine mammary gland - insights from gene expression profiling” BMC Genomics 16:748

Cridge, A.G, Leask, M.P, Duncan, E.J, Dearden, P.K (2015) “What do studies of insect polyphenisms tell us about nutritionally-triggered epigenomic changes and their consequences?” Nutrients, 7(3):1787-1797.

International Bumblebee Genomics Consortium (includes Dearden, P.K.) (2015)
“The genomes of two key bumblebee species with primitive eusocial organization.”Genome Biology, 2015, 16:76.

International Centipede Genome Consortium (includes Dearden, P.K.) (2014) “The First Myriapod Genome Sequence Reveals Conservative Arthropod Gene Content and Genome Organisation in the Centipede Strigamia maritimePLOS Biology,12(11) e1002005.

Dearden, P.M, Dearden, P.K (2014) “More than just buzz: New Zealand bee research and its impact.”  New Zealand Science Review 71(2):28-36

Macaulay, E.C, Donovan, E.L, Leask, M.P, Bloomfield, F.H, Vickers, M.H, Dearden, P.K, Baker, P.N. (2014) ”The importance of early life in childhood obesity and related diseases: a report from the 2014 Gravida Strategic Summit". Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, 5 (6) 398-407.

Dearden, P.K. (2014) “Expression pattern of empty-spiracles, a conserved head-patterning gene, in Honeybee (Apis mellifera) embryos.” Gene Expression Patterns, 15(2):142-8.

Paten. A.M, Pain, S.J, Peterson, S.W, Blair, H.T, Kenyon, P.R, Dearden, P.K, Duncan, E.J. (2014). "Identification of reference genes for RT-qPCR in ovine mammary tissue during late-pregnancy, lactation and in response to maternal nutritional programming." Physiological Genomics, 46(15):560-70.

Duncan, E.J., Johnson, T.K., Whisstock, J.C., Warr, C.G. and Dearden, P.K. (2014) “Capturing embryonic development from metamorphosis: How did the terminal patterning signalling pathway of Drosophila evolve?”  Current Opinions in Insect Science, 1:45-51

Kenny, N.J, Namigai, E.K.O, Dearden, P.K, Hui, J. H. L, Grande, C, Shimeld, S.M. (2014). “The Lophotrochozoan TGF-β Signalling Cassette: Diversification and Conservation in a Key Signalling Pathway.” International Journal of Developmental Biology, in press.

Duncan, E.J., Gluckman, P.D., Dearden P.K. (2014). “Epigenetics, Plasticity and Evolution: How do we link epigenetic change to phenotype?Journal of Experimental Zoology, Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution, 322(4):208-220

Wilson, M.J., Kenny, N.J., Dearden, P.K (2013)“Components of the dorsal-ventral pathway also contribute to anterior-posterior patterning in honeybee embryos (Apis mellifera)”  Evo-Devo. 5:11.

Cameron. R.C., Duncan.E.J., Dearden. P.K. (2013) “Biased gene expression in early honeybee larval development.” BMC Genomics. 14:903  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-903.

Kenny, N. J., Dearden, P.K. (2013) “NMDA Receptor Expression and C Terminus Structure in the Rotifer Brachionus plicatilis and Long Term Potentiation across the Metazoa." Invertebrate Neuroscience  132: pp 125-134

Duncan, E.J., Benton M.A., Dearden, P.K. (2013) ”Canonical terminal patterning is an evolutionary novelty” Developmental Biology 377(1):245-61

Duncan, E.J., Leask, M.P., Dearden, P.K. (2013) “The pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) genome encodes two divergent early developmental programs” Developmental Biology 377(1):262-74

Wilson, M. J. & Dearden, P. K. (2013) “RNA localization in the honeybee (Apis mellifera) oocyte reveals insights about the evolution of RNA localization mechanisms”. Developmental Biology. 375, 193-201.

Cameron, R. Duncan, E.J., Dearden, P.K. (2013) Stable reference genes for the measurement of transcript abundance during larval caste development in the honeybee. Apidologie 44:357–366.

Hyink, O., Laas, F., Dearden, P.K. (2013) Genetic tests for alleles of complimentary-sex-determiner to support honeybee breeding programmes. Apidologie 44:306-313

Zondag, L., Dearden, P.K., Wilson, M.J. (2012) Deep sequencing and expression of microRNAs from early honeybee (Apis mellifera) embryos reveals a role in regulating early embryonic patterning. BMC Evolutionary Biology 12 : 211

Chua, J.P.S., Wallace, E.J.S., Yardley, J.A., Duncan, E.J., Dearden, P.K., Summerfield, T.C. (2012) Gene expression indicates a zone of heterocyst differentiation within the thallus of the cyanolichen Pseudocyphellaria crocata., New Phytologist, 196:3, 862-872.

Wilson, M.J. & Dearden, P.K. (2012) Pair-rule gene orthologues have unexpected maternal roles in the Honeybee (Apis mellifera). PLOS-One, 7 (9) p. e46490.

Wilson, M. J. & Dearden, P. K. (2011) Diversity in insect axis formation; two orthodenticle genes and hunchback act in anterior patterning and influence dorso-ventral organisation in the Honeybee (Apis mellifera). Development 138, 3497-3507.

Wilson, M.J., Abbott, H. and Dearden, P.K. (2011) The evolution of oocyte patterning in insects: Multiple cell-signaling pathways are active during honeybee oogenesis and are likely to play a role in axis patterning. Evolution and Development. 13, 2, 127-137.

Wilson, M.J., McKelvey, B.H., van der Heide, S. and Dearden P.K. (2010) Notch signaling does not regulate segmentation in the honeybee, Apis mellifera. Development, Genes and Evolution 220, 7-8, 179-19.

E.J. Duncan and P.K. Dearden (2010) Evolution of a genomic regulatory domain: The role of gene co-option and gene duplication in the Enhancer of Split Complex. Genome Research. 20, 7, 917-928.

J. Smith, A.G. Cridge and P.K. Dearden (2010) Germ cell specification and ovary structure in the rotifer Brachionus plicatilis. Evo-Devo. 1:5.

The international pea aphid genome consortium (includes Dearden P.K) The genome sequence of the pea aphid (2010), PLOS biology. 8, e1000313.

S.Shigenobu, R.D. Bickel, J. Brisson,T. Butts, C-c. Chang, G.K. Davis, E.J. Duncan, R.Janssen, D. Ferrier, H-L. Lu, A. McGregor, T. Miura, J. Smith, M. van der Zee, R. Velarde, M.J. Wilson, P.K. Dearden, D. Stern (2010). Comprehensive survey of developmental genes in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum: frequent lineage-specific duplications and losses of developmental genes.  Insect Molecular Biology 19, 47-62.

M.J. Wilson and P.K. Dearden (2010) Giant, Krüppel, and caudal act as gap genes with extensive roles in patterning the honeybee embryo. Developmental Biology, 339(1):200-11.

M.J. Wilson and P.K. Dearden (2009) Tailless patterning functions are conserved in the honeybee even in the absence of Torso signaling. Developmental Biology, 335:1 276-287.

D’Specht, S. Wu, P. Turner, P.K. Dearden, F. Koentgen, T. Märker, M. Maw, J. H. Brandstätter, S. tom Dieck.(2009). Effects of presynaptic mutations on a postsynaptic Cacna1s calcium channel co-localized with mGluR6 at mouse photoreceptor ribbon synapses. Investigative Opthalmology and Visual Science. 50:505-515.

P.K.Dearden, E.J.Duncan, M.J.Wilson (2009) The Honeybee Apis mellifera. Cold spring Harbor Protocols. Doi:10.1101/pdb.emo123

P.K.Dearden, E.J.Duncan, M.J.Wilson (2009) Immunohistochemistry on Honeybee (Apis mellifera) embryos. Cold spring Harbor Protocols. Doi:10.1101/pdb.prot 5227
P.K.Dearden, E.J.Duncan, M.J.Wilson (2009) Fixation and storage of Honeybee (Apis mellifera) tissues. Cold spring Harbor Protocols. Doi:10.1101/pdb.prot 5224
P.K.Dearden, E.J.Duncan, M.J.Wilson (2009) Whole-mount In Situ Hybridization of Honeybee (Apis mellifera) tissues. Cold spring Harbor Protocols. Doi:10.1101/pdb.prot5225
P.K.Dearden, E.J.Duncan, M.J.Wilson (2009) In Situ Hybridization of Sectioned Honeybee (Apis mellifera) tissues. Cold spring Harbor Protocols. Doi:10.1101/pdb.prot 5226
P.K.Dearden, E.J.Duncan, M.J.Wilson (2009) RNA Interference (RNAi) in Honeybee (Apis mellifera) embryos. Cold spring Harbor Protocols. Doi:10.1101/pdb.prot 5228
E J. Duncan, M J. Wilson, J M. Smith, PK. Dearden (2008). Evolutionary origin and genomic organisation of runt-domain containing genes in arthropods. BMC Genomics 9:558 doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-558.
M.J. Wilson and P.K. Dearden (2008). Evolution of the Insect Sox Genes. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 8:120 doi:10.1186/1471-2148-8-120.
J.M. Young, J. L. Juengel, K. G. Dodds, M. Laird, P. K. Dearden, A. S. McNeilly, K. P. McNatty, T. Wilson. (2008) The ALK6 Booroola mutation enhances suppressive effects of BMP2, -4, -6 and GDF9 on FSH release from ovine primary pituitary cell cultures. Journal of Endocrinology, 196 (2):251-61.   
The Honeybee Genome Sequencing Consortium (includes P.K. Dearden) (2006) Insights into social insects from the genome of the honeybee Apis mellifera Nature, 443. 931-949.
P.K. Dearden, M.J. Wilson, L. Sablan, P.W. Osborne, M. Havler,E. McNaughton, K. Kimura, N Milshina, M. Hasselmann, T. Gempe, M. Schioett, S.J. Brown, C. Elsik, P.W.H Holland, T. Kadowaki, M. Beye. (2006). Patterns of conservation and change in Honeybee developmental genes. Genome Research, 16: 1376-1384.
P.K. Dearden (2006) Germ-cell specification in the Honeybee: Vasa and Nanos expression. BMC Developmental Biology. 6 :6: 1-14.
B. Sabater-Munoz, F. Legeai, C. Rispe, J. Bonhomme, P. K. Dearden, C. Dossat, A. Duclert, J-P. Gauthier, D. G. Ducray, W. Hunter, P. Dang, S. Kambhampati, D. Martinez-Torres, T. Cortes, A. Moya, A. Nakabachi, C. Philippe, N. Prunier-Leterme, Y. Rahbe, J-C. Simon, D. L. Stern, P. Wincker & D. Tagu. (2006) Large scale gene discovery in the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum (Hemiptera). Genome Biology. 7(3):R21: 1-10
A. Hemara-Wahanui , S. Berjukow , C.I. Hope , P.K. Dearden , S. Wu , J. Wilson-Wheeler, D.M. Sharp , P. Lundon-Treweek, G.M. Clover, J-C. Hoda, J. Striessnig, R. Marksteiner, S.  Hering and M.A. Maw (2005) A CACNA1F mutation identified in an X-linked retinal disorder shifts the voltage-dependence of Cav1.4 channel activation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 102 7553-7558.           
P. Osborne , P.K. Dearden (2005) Expression of Pax Group III genes in the Honeybee (Apis mellifera). Development, Genes and Evolution. 215: 499-508.   
P. Osborne , P.K. Dearden (2005) Non-radioactive in situ hybridisation to honeybee embryos and ovaries. Apidologie 36 113-118.
M.J. Denton, P.K. Dearden, S.J. Sowerby (2003) Physical law not natural selection as the major determinant of biological complexity in the subcellular realm: new support for the pre-Darwinian conception of evolution by natural law. Biosystems 71 (3): 297-303.
P.K. Dearden, M. Grbic´, C. Donly (2003) Vasa expression and Germ Cell Specification in the Spider mite Tetranychus urticae. Genes, Development and Evolution, 212(12):599-603.
P.K. Dearden, C Donly and M Grbic´(2002) Expression of pair-rule gene homologues in a chelicerate: early patterning of the Two-Spotted Spider Mite Tetranychus urticae Development. 129(23) 5461-5472
C. Chang, P.K. Dearden and M. Akam (2002) Expression of the germ determinant vasa in the grasshopper, Schistocerca gregaria, Developmental Biology. 252(1) 100-118.
P.K. Dearden, M. Akam (2001) Early embryo patterning in the Grasshopper, Schistocerca gregaria; wingless, dpp and caudal expression. Development 128(18) 3435-3444.
Lawrence, N, P.K. Dearden, D. Hartley, J. Roose, H. Clevers, and A. Martinez Arias (2000). A Groucho protein that lacks the WD40 repeats modulates Wingless signalling in Drosophila and reveals dominant repressor properties of dTCF. International Journal of Developmental Biology, 44(7), 749-756.
P.K. Dearden, M. Grbic´, F. Falciani, M. Akam (2000) Maternal and Early Zygotic expression of the Hox3/zen gene of the Grasshopper Schistocerca gregaria.  Evolution and Development 2(5), 261-270
P.K. Dearden, Michael Akam  (2000) A role for Fringe in segment morphogenesis but not segment formation in the grasshopper, Schistocerca gregaria. Development, Genes and Evolution 210, 7: 329-336.
P. K. Dearden; Michael Akam;  (2000) Segmentation in silico. Nature 406 6792:131 – 132.
P.K. Dearden, Akam M (1999) Developmental evolution: Axial patterning in insects. Current Biology 26 9:16 R591-4
S.A.Trewick, P.K. Dearden (1994) A rapid protocol for DNA extraction and primer annealing for PCR sequencing. Biotechniques 17:5 842-4

Book Chapters

Amy J. Osborne, Elizabeth J. Duncan, Andrew G. Cridge & Peter K. Dearden (2014) Epigenetics and the Female Germline.  In Transgenerational Epigenetics: Evidence and Debate (ed Trygve Tollefsbol) (Elsevier Inc). In press.

Dearden, P.K., Duncan, E.J. & Wilson, M.J. The Honeybee Apis mellifera. in Emerging Model Organisms: A Laboratory Manual 2., Vol. 2 (eds. Crotty, D.A. & Gann, A.) (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, New York, 2010).


Recent Papers

Duncan, E.J, Hyink, O, Dearden, P.K (2016) Notch Signalling Mediates Reproductive Constraint in the Adult Worker Honeybee. Nature Communications 7,12427 doi:10.1038/ncomms

Smith, L.M, Parr-Brownlie, J.C, Duncan, E.J, Black, M.A, Gemmell, N.J, Dearden, P.K, Reynolds, J.N.J (2016) Striatal mRNA expression patterns underlying peak dose L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia in the 6-OHDA hemiparkinsonian rat. Neuroscience, 324:238-51.

Cridge, A.C., Dearden, P.K., Brownfield, L. (2016) Convergent occurrence of the developmental hourglass in plant and animal embryogenesis. Annals of Botany