The work outlined in this dissertation was carried out in the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, over the period from October 2003 to October 2006. This dissertation is the result of my work and includes nothing which is the outcome of work done in collaboration, except for a few instances which are stated in the text.

The material included in this thesis has not been submitted for a degree or diploma or any other qualification at any other university. Furthermore, no part of my dissertation has already been or is currently submitted for any such degree, diploma or other qualification.

This thesis does neither exceed 300 single-sided pages of double-spaced text, nor 60,000 words.


I am grateful to my supervisor, Professor Michael Bate, for his patience, for being inspirational, and for teaching me the importance of using curiosity as the driving force behind research. I would like to thank him for invaluable lessons about the importance of guidance and for the freedom he granted to me during my work in his lab.

I am also indebted to Dr. Matthias Landgraf. Regardless of the growing responsibility for his own lab, he was always willing to take time for adding new ideas to my project, teaching me experimental techniques or to fix the micromanipulator.

I would like to thank all my colleagues of the Zoology basement for creating a friendly and supportive environment. This includes Vicky Jeffrey, Annemarie North, Sara Pasalodos, Dr. Barry Denholm, Sarah Crisp, Petra Stockinger, Kyra Campbell, Marco Tripodi, Li Feng, Amit Nair, Dr. Marta Zlatic, Dr. Soeren Diegelmann, Dr. Maura Stringini, Stephanie Bunt, Dr. Greg Jeffries, Dr. Helen Skaer, Dr. Jan Felix Evers, Alex Mauss, Barbara Chwalla and Ben Fiddian.

Finally, I thank my parents, family and my friends for their support. Special thanks go (in alphabetical order) to Aidan, Alessandro, Alex M., Alex W., Alex P., Amol, Astrid, Charlotte, Franky, Franz K., Franz H., Heather, Kathrin, Kerstin, Lishan, Marco, Mariella, Moncef, Nicole B., Nicole R., Petra, Rob, Sebastian, Soeren, Su-Yin, Tatyana and Wolfgang.


The work described in this thesis would not have been possible without the generous financial support from the Cambridge Gates Trust and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). I would like to express my gratefulness to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the taxpayers of Great Britain for their contributions towards my scholarships.

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