Group 1: Evolution and Development of Chordates
Our team is particularly interested in the evolution of the body shape and body structures during the invertebrate-chordate to vertebrate transition. This evolutionary transition is a good model for the study of the evolution of developmental mechanisms for three major reasons: i) two complete genome duplications occurred during this transition, giving rise to an expansion of the gene content in vertebrates, ii) easy access to perfect animal models for comparative studies, and iii) many studies in different vertebrate animal models exist about the mechanisms implicated in embryonic development.
The animal model we are using is the amphioxus, a cephalochordate representing the earliest divergent lineage of chordates. It has kept all the morphological characteristics defining the chordate lineage (dorsal hollow nerve chord, dorsal notochord, pharyngeal gill slits, etc) but remains an extremely simple organism, both anatomically and genomically.
Within our research group have recently developed a method to induce spawning daily during the amphioxus spawning season, as well as all the major techniques necessary for developmental studies (ISH, immunolocalizations, treatments, microinjection of unfertilized eggs, etc…).While continuing to refine our knowledge about the basic biology and ecology of the European amphioxus, Branchiostoma lanceolatum, we are conducting several parallel investigations into different questions concerning major developmental processes such as somitogenesis or neural induction.
Please see the team’s project pages for more information.