Campbell Rolian, PhD
Our research group focuses on musculoskeletal anatomy of the limb bones. Specifically, we are interested in: (i) the genetic and developmental basis of variation in limb bone size and shape, both within and between species, (ii) the evolvability of the postcranial skeleton, (iii) the relationship between limb bone morphology and whole organism performance.
To address these questions, we have set up a long-term artificial selection experiment targeting inreases in limb bone length in a mouse population. After 20 generations of selective breeding, we have produced mice, called Longshanks, with tibiae (shin bones) on average 16% longer than a random-bred control cohort, but with the same average body mass (see pic). We have begun to look at the developmental basis of this increase in limb bone length using high-throughput RNA sequencing. In parallel, we are studying the functional consequences of having longer limbs, with respect jumping and running performance. Finally, we are also using this unique model to understand the relationship between limb bone length (as a proxy for height) and rapid growth rates on musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.