Portrait of  Maria Alvarez Rodriguez-Lopez

Maria Alvarez Rodriguez-Lopez

Research Student


Research topic: Soma-Germline communication and the role of cortical polarity in signalling regulation during Drosophila spermatogenesis

2016 - 2020 Integrated Bsc and Msc in Biomedical Sciences, University of Warwick 

Medway School of Pharmacy Post Graduate Research Scholarship 

Research interests

Stem cells are remarkable in their ability to develop into a wide range of different cell types as well as proliferate to produce identical daughter stem cells. They are crucial for the development of multicellular organisms and have started to become great tools in the treatment of disease as well as a powerful research area. 

Drosophila melanogaster, more commonly known as the fruit fly, is an excellent model system that is widely used in an array of research areas. 60% of the Drosophila genome is homologous to that of humans, and 75% of the genes responsible for human disease have homologs in Drosophila. It is a particularly useful system for the study of stem cells and their related processes as we can genetically manipulate the function of a variety of cell types as well as trace their fates. 

In our lab we are interested in cell to cell communication during early spermatogenesis in the Drosophila testis. Here germline stem cells and their daughter cells proliferate and differentiate to form mature sperm cells. During this process somatic cyst cells enclose them, forming a “cyst”. We are particularly intrigued by the way that germline and somatic cyst cells communicate and how somatic cyst cells aid in the germline’s cell fate. 

Previous work in our lab has shown that cortical polarity in somatic cyst cells regulates signaling impacting the germ cells that they surround, hence in my project I am aiming to reveal the mechanism by which cortical polarity affects signaling between germline and cyst cells. 


Supervisors: Dr Fani Papagiannouli and Dr Gurprit Lall

Research Group: Biological Sciences