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A flexible evolutionary toolkit for neural development

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Nadine Randel.

In all metazoans conserved genes regulate the formation of tissues and organs. This raises the question of how a limited set of developmental genes can support the evolution of diverse shapes. My lab’s work on early neurogenesis in insects and other arthropods revealed that conserved genes form a flexible evolutionary toolkit supporting the emergence of different morphological modules that can be combined in various ways to generate variations in nervous system development. The flexibility of the toolkit is not only aided by evolutionary changes in the interactions of the genes but also by their pleiotropic functions. Interestingly, the flexibility of the gene networks does not only support evolutionary changes but also the maintenance of essential parts such as the development of pioneer neurons that establish the axonal scaffold. I will present examples demonstrating these concepts based on my lab’s studies of the evolution of the central and peripheral nervous system of various arthropod groups and species.

This talk is part of the Evolution and Development Seminar Series series.

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