School of Life Sciences
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Sara Goodacre

Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences


  • workRoom B129A (lab A100) School of Biology (room B129A)
    University Park
    NG7 2RD
  • work0115 82 30334
  • fax0115 82 30313


2006-present 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, University of Cambridge.

Research Summary

The 'SpiderLab' at Nottingham works on a range of evolutionary, population and conservation genetic studies, using spiders as model systems. Examples of current projects include studies of… read more

Selected Publications

Current Research

The 'SpiderLab' at Nottingham works on a range of evolutionary, population and conservation genetic studies, using spiders as model systems. Examples of current projects include studies of dispersal-strategy and the persistence of population differentiation in money spider meta-populations, studies of mating behaviour and sex ratio bias in tree dwelling spiders, tests of the relationship between mating system and inbreeding in semi-social desert spiders and the use of genetic tools to study and manage endangered raft spider populations. Recently the lab has also started to work on molecular genetic studies of spider silk, focussing on a range of tarantula species.

Evolutionary, population and conservation genetics of spiders

1. Dispersal-strategy and the persistence of population differentiation at the landscape scale (with Dr. George Thomas, Plymouth, Dr. Oliver Martin, University of East Anglia, Dr. Dries Bonte, University of Ghent and Professor Steve Brooks, Cambridge).

We are using molecular markers to estimate levels of gene flow among populations of money spiders in heterogeneous landscapes, where colonisation may involve wind-assisted, long-distance dispersal using silk as a sail ('ballooning'). We find that dispersal tendency appears to be linked to infection with particular endosymbiont infections within the spider host.

2. Mating behaviour, endosymbiont infections and operational sex ratio in the linyphiid spider Pityohyphantes phrygianus (with Dr. Bengt Gunnarsson, University of Gothenburg).

We are investigating the role of microbial infections in influencing the sex ratio in this species, which is often highly female biased, and investigating the evolutionary basis for a link between endosymbiont infection, the reproductive behaviour of both males and females and offspring sex ratio.

3. Studies of mygalomorph silk (with the Nottingham NanoScience and Nanotechnology Centre)

Orange baboon tarantula and silk

Orange baboon tarantula and silk

We are currently studying the physical properties of mygalomorph (tarantula) silk and establishing the molecular genetic diversity in silk genes within this group of spiders.

4. Reproductive success in the polygynous, semi-social spider Stegodyphus lineatus (with Associate Professor Trine Bilde, University of Aarhus).

This species lives in closely-related family groups and although females mate multiply, there appears to be no discrimination against mating with close kin. We are using molecular markers to investigate whether there is post-mating selection by females that minimises inbreeding and thus influences reproductive success.

5. Population genetics and reproductive biology of the raft spiders Dolomedes plantarius and D. fimbriatus (with Professor Godfrey Hewitt, Marija Vugdelic and Philip Pearson, University of East Anglia and Drs. Helen Smith and Roger Key, English Nature).

We are combining molecular genetic and ecological approaches to the study of these species throughout their European range in order to provide a basis for the management of endangered British populations.

School of Life Sciences

University of Nottingham
Medical School
Queen's Medical Centre
Nottingham NG7 2UH

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