Kathleen Kovalevski Smith

Professor of Biology

Office: 
130 Science Drive, Room 122 Duke Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708-0338
Phone: 
(919) 684-3402
My current work is a focus on the relation between evolution and development in the mammalian skull. My model system involves comparisons of development in placental and marsupial mammals. These mammals are characterized by different developmental trajectories, extending back to some of the earliest events of differentiation, largely as a result of their different life history adaptations. My work focuses on a number of different questions. First, what are the differences in the development of the craniofacial region in marsupial and placental mammals? The head is particularly important in the comparison between marupials and placentals, as many cranial systems must be functional at birth in marsupials, despite the fact that morphogenesis has just started. Second, how do the differences in the developmental pattern reflect the necessities of the marsupial reproductive strategy? What is the adaptive significance of the developmental differences and what constraints might be operating? Here I am looking at development not as merely a means to produce an adult, but as a feature that has an evolutionary significance of its own. Third, what can this comparative approach tell us about mammalian head development in general? There are many differences in the way the head develops in marsupials and placentals. It is reasonable to assume that those elements that develop independently (e.g., appear in different temporal or spatial sequences in the two taxa) are elements that are not mechanistically linked or integrated, whereas those that are consistently associated in the two taxa, despite changes in other structures, may be linked by developmental mechanisms. I am using this comparative approach to examine developmental integration and plasticity. Fourth, what are the developmental mechanisms underlying these evolutionary changes? The most significant differences in development in the two taxa reflect differences in the relative timing of the development of the central nervous system and somatic structures. Hypotheses on many levels have been proposed on the possible mechanistic relations between the development of the CNS and the cranial skeleton. To what extent can these hypotheses on mechanistic relation be tested by comparing events in organisms in which the elements are shifted dramatically in time or space? The comparison is, in essence, a natural experiment. Finally, have the specific developmental patterns of marsupial and placental mammals had an impact on the evolutionary diversity and success of these organisms?

My current project focuses on the earliest patterning events. These projects include a study of heterochronies in the earliest morphological and genetic events in the head of marsupial and placental mammals, a study of neural crest in marupial mammals, and a study of patterns of Hox gene expression along the developing body axis, relations between the brain and cranial skeleton.

Education

  • Ph.D., Harvard University 1980

  • B.A., University of California at Santa Cruz 1973

Smith, KK. "Placental Evolution in Therian Mammals." In Great Transformations in Vertebrate Evolution,edited by KP Dial, N Shubin, and EL Brainerd, 205-225. University of Chicago Press, July 20, 2015. (Chapter)

Adamski, KN, Loyd, AM, Samost, A, Myers, B, Nightingale, R, Smith, K, and Dale Bass, CR. "Pediatric Coronal Suture Fiber Alignment and the Effect of Interdigitation on Coronal Suture Mechanical Properties." Annals of Biomedical Engineering 43, no. 9 (September 29, 2015): 2101-2111. Full Text

Adamski, KN, Loyd, AM, Samost, A, Myers, B, Nightingale, R, Smith, K, and 'Dale' Bass, CR. "Pediatric Coronal Suture Fiber Alignment and the Effect of Interdigitation on Coronal Suture Mechanical Properties." Annals of biomedical engineering 43, no. 9 (September 2015): 2101-2111. Full Text

Keyte, AL, and Smith, KK. "Heterochrony and developmental timing mechanisms: changing ontogenies in evolution." Seminars in cell & developmental biology 34 (October 2014): 99-107. (Review) Full Text

Keyte, AL, and Smith, KK. "Heterochrony and developmental timing mechanisms: Changing ontogenies in evolution." Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology 34 (October 1, 2014): 99-107. (Review) Full Text

Keyte, A, and Smith, KK. "Heterochrony in somitogenesis rate in a model marsupial, Monodelphis domestica." Evol Dev 14, no. 1 (January 2012): 93-103. Full Text

Price, SA, Hopkins, SSB, Smith, KK, and Roth, VL. "Tempo of trophic evolution and its impact on mammalian diversification." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109, no. 18 (2012): 7008-7012. Full Text

Alonzo, M, Smith, KK, and Kirby, ML. "Epigenetic interactions of the cardiac neural crest." (April 11, 2011): 181-194. (Chapter)

Moustakas, JE, Smith, KK, and Hlusko, LJ. "Evolution and development of the mammalian dentition: Insights from the marsupial Monodelphis domestica." Developmental Dynamics 240, no. 1 (2011): 232-239. Full Text

Keyte, AL, and Smith, KK. "Developmental origins of precocial forelimbs in marsupial neonates." Development 137, no. 24 (December 2010): 4283-4294. Full Text Open Access Copy

Moustakas, JE, Smith, KK, and Hlusko, LJ. "The evolution and development of the mammalian dentition: Insights from the marsupial Monodelphis domestica." DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY 331, no. 2 (July 15, 2009): 461-461. Full Text

Pages

Keyte, AL, Imam, T, Alonzo, M, Halbert, T, and Smith, KK. "Building a marsupial neonate: Evolution of the limb development program in opossum." July 15, 2008. Full Text

Keyte, AL, Imam, T, and Smith, KK. "Limb heterochrony in a marsupial, M-domestica." July 1, 2006. Full Text

A Digital Repository for Evolutionary Biology awarded by National Science Foundation (Co-Principal Investigator). 2008 to 2013

The Evolution of Cranial Neural Crest in Mammals awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2003 to 2007

The evolution of cranial neural crest in mammals awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2003 to 2006

An environmental scanning electron microscope for DU awarded by National Science Foundation (Co-Principal Investigator). 2001 to 2003

Cranial Development in Mammals: The Origins of Heterochrony awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1999 to 2003

Dissertation Research: Evolution and Functional Morphology in Incisors in Wood-Cutting Castorids awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2000 to 2001

Dissertation Research: Developmental Maintenance Of ... awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1997 to 1998

Craniofacial Development In Eutherian And Metathenan Mamma awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1994 to 1997

Role Of Extracellular Matrix Proteins In Craniofacial Deve awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1993 to 1994

Reu Supplement - Role Of Extracellular Matrix Proteins In awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1994

Pages