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Skidmore College
Biology Department

imageJennifer Bonner

Associate Professor of Biology

Dana Science Center Room 347
Biology Department
Skidmore College
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

(518) 580-5089

(518) 580-5071

Personal website:


Education and Professional Training:

University of New Hampshire, BA, Microbiology
University of British Columbia, PhD, Neuroscience
University of Utah, postdoctoral fellow

Courses Taught:

Biology 106 Biological Sciences II
Biology 247 Cell Biology
Biology 341 Neurodevelopment
Biology 342 Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
Biology 385 Methods in Molecular Biology and Genetics, Integrative Biology, and Ecology, Evolution and Behavior
Neuroscience 101 Introduction to Neuroscience
Neuroscience 277 Integrative Seminar in Neuroscience

Research Interests:

The long-term goal of my research is to determine the genes that control nervous system connectivity. I am using zebrafish as a model system to address this question, and focusing on the spinal cord due to its relative simple structure and homology to higher vertebrates including humans. Several evolutionarily conserved classes of neurons are found in the zebrafish spinal cord, including commissural neurons, sensory neurons, and motoneurons. Commissural neurons connect the two halves of the nervous system and develop by responding to both attractive and repulsive signals, which allow them to cross the middle of the animal, called the midline. Sensory neurons project anterior and posterior in the spinal cord, while also projecting to the skin, elaborating extensive arbors. Finally, motoneuron cell bodies, positioned in the ventral spinal cord, project out of the spinal cord to the musculature. I am interested in the guidance cues that direct the pathfinding of these neuronal subtypes. To do this, I am using genetics, gene knockdown technology, and cell biology to study the mechanisms of neuron pathfinding and exploring potential novel roles for canonical guidance cues.

Sample Image

Confocal time series of GFP labeled spinal cord neurons as they project posteriorly in the zebrafish embryo. Two spinal tracts enter the field from the right (anterior) side of the spinal cord. Large GFP labeled ectodermal cells can also be seen migrating throughout the embryo. (click image for video)

Sample Image

Time-lapse confocal movie of GFP-labeled zebrafish motoneurons innervating the surrounding musculature. (click image for video)

Peer Reviewed Publications:

Beck A, Watt, R. Bonner J. (2014) Mounting of zebrafish embryos for optimal microscopy. Journal of Visual Experimentation (84):e50703.

Ross, A, Bonner J. (2012) Activation of Wnt signaling using Lithium Chloride: An Inquiry based Model of Undergraduate Laboratory Exercises. Zebrafish, in press.

Spooner PM, Bonner J, Maricq AV, Benian GM, Norman KR. (2012) Large isoforms of UNC-89-obscurin are required for muscle cell architecture and calcium release in Caenorhabditis elegans. PLoS 7(7):e40182

Bonner J, Letko M, Nikolaus OB, Krug L, Cooper A, Chadwick B, Conklin P, Lim A, Chien CB, Dorsky RI. (2012) Midline crossing is not required for subsequent pathfinding decisions in commissural neurons. Neural Development 7(1):18

Gribble SL, Kim HS, Bonner J, Wang X, Dorsky RI. (2009) Tcf3 inhibits spinal cord neurogenesis by regulating sox4a expression. Development 136(5):781-9.

Bonner J, Gribble SL, Veien ES, Nikolaus OB, Weidinger G, Dorsky RI. (2008) Proliferation and patterning are mediated independently in the dorsal spinal cord downstream of canonical Wnt signaling. Development Biology 313(1):398-407.

Lewis JL, Bonner J, Modrell M, Ragland JW, Moon RT, Dorsky RI, and Raible DW. (2004) Reiterated Wnt signaling during zebrafish neural crest development. Development 131(6);1299-1308.

Bonner J, Gerrow KA, and O'Connor TP. (2003) The Ti1 pioneer pathway: An in vivo model for neuronal outgrowth and guidance. Methods in Cell Biology 71:171-193.

Bonner J, Auld VJ, and O'Connor TP. (2002) Migrating mesoderm establish a uniform distribution of laminin in the developing grasshopper embryo. Developmental Biology 249(1):57-73.

Bonner J and O'Connor TP. (2001) The permissive cue laminin is essential for growth cone turning in vivo. Journal of Neuroscience 21(24):9782-91.

Bonner J and O'Connor TP. (2000) Semaphorin function in the developing invertebrate peripheral nervous system. Biochemistry and Cell Biology 78(5): 603-611.

Honer WG, Falkai P, Young C, Wang T, Xie J, Bonner J , Hu L, Boulianne GL, Lu Z, Trimble WS. (1997) Cingulate cortex synaptic terminal proteins and neural cell adhesion molecule in schizophrenia. Neuroscience 78(1): 99-110.

Recent Laboratory Students