Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Genetics, University of Nottingham
2006-2011 RCUK Fellow, University of Nottingham, 2002-2005 Research Fellow, University of East Anglia, 2000-2001 Research Fellow, University of Oxford, 1999 Ph.D., University of Nottingham, 1995 B.A. (1998 M. A.) Natural Sciences, Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge.
The 'SpiderLab' at Nottingham studies the diversity of spiders and of their silks, in order to understand what factors drive and explain the current distribution of diversity seen today. Insights… read more
GOODACRE, S.L., MARTIN, O.Y., BONTE, D., HUTCHINGS, L., WOOLLEY, C., IBRAHIM, K., THOMAS, C.F.G. and HEWITT, G.M., 2009. Microbial modification of host long-distance dispersal capacity BMC Biology. 7(June), 32 GILLESPIE, R.G., CLARIDGE, E.M. and GOODACRE, S.L., 2008. Biogeography of the fauna of French Polynesia: diversification within and between a series of hot spot archipelagos Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. 363(1508), 3335-3346 GUNNARSSON, B., GOODACRE, S.L. and HEWITT, G.M., 2009. Sex ratio, mating behaviour and Wolbachia infections in a sheetweb spider Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 98(1), 181-186
GOODACRE, S. L, 2011. Endosymbionts and behavior in Spiders Advances in Insect Physiology Edited by Profs Simpson and Casas. 40, 138-153
The 'SpiderLab' at Nottingham studies the diversity of spiders and of their silks, in order to understand what factors drive and explain the current distribution of diversity seen today. Insights from these studies allow us to understand how we might best maximise the pest-controlling potential of spiders in a farmers field, and how we might copy particular genetic templates for spider silk to make our own, synthetic versions that give materials with new possibilities for use in medicine or engineering.
Studies of dispersal show that at least in some cases, interactions between the spider host and internal microbial species influence tendencies of spiders to disperse long distances using silk as a sail. These aeronautic behaviours, coupled with acrobatic tendencies when landing on water, may help to explain how genetic variation is shared amongst populations across large spatial scales. Conversely, reproductive incompatibitilies caused by these same microorganisms may explain why some host genetic variants remain more localised than the apparent potential for long-distance dispersal might suggest.
Molecular genetic studies of spider silks across the entire spider family have helped us to understand how these complicated proteins have evolved to fulfill such a diversity of functions, from silken sails that allow flying using the power of the wind, to intricate, composite silken structures in which to hide above ground or beneath the surface of a pond. We have used these insights to create our own, synthetic versions of silks through collaborating with biological chemists. Insights from the field of chemistry have enabled us to make these versions functionalised, through chemically adding molecules that confer useful properties, such as antibiotics, cell-growth factors or dyes visible under particular wavelengths of light.
The SpiderLab has championed the use of spiders in public engagement, and in the development of genetic and genomic resources to aid in the study of spiders in need of direct conservation action.