The Department of Biomedicine

BBB Seminar: Andreas Hejnol

From genomes to morphology – the role of development in the evolution of complexity

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Andreas Hejnol
Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology, Bergen

Life evolved in the ocean and marine habitats still have the greatest degree of animal diversity. Different morphologies are inherited during the developmental period, therefore understanding developmental diversity is the key to understanding the evolution of form. Cleavage, gastrulation and morphogenesis have been modified in many different ways during evolution and we are just beginning to understand what has changed and how this happened during the course of evolution. What was the ancestral developmental starting point and how did changes in development result in animal diversity from flies to humans? When and where did complex organs arise, including a through gut, nervous systems, and our axial relationships? Recent work on animals that are not established model systems has delivered important insights into molecular mechanisms and how these have changed during evolution, and ultimately gave rise to complex organs such as the cerebral cortex, and complex systems such as the immune system. Our group at the Sars Centre for Marine Molecular Biology studies a diversity of animal species to gain an insight into the molecular mechanisms of the evolution of organ systems such as the alimentary canal, centralized nervous system and sensory organs.

Chair: Daniel Chourrout, Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology