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Evolution of gastrulation in flies

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The morphology of an organism is shaped during its development, and ultimately adult form rests on sequential changes in the shape of cells and tissues. Morphological differences between two species are generated by diverging developmental trajectories. To assess the molecular principles contributing to the evolution of form, we study gastrulation as a genetically tractable model of (transient) morphogenesis. Specifically, we compare gastrulation in distantly related flies (Diptera) at the cellular and genetic level with the aim to identify common genetic and cell biological principles of morphological evolution. As fly gastrulation follows a similar set of morphogenetic transformations, it can be readily compared; yet it has diverged sufficiently enough between flies to be able to explore morphogenetic differences. Over the last years, we and others have established lab cultures and molecular genetic tools for basic gain- and loss-of-function approaches in multiple species at key positions in the Dipteran phylogeny. I will discuss experimental approaches we are taking to study the evolution of Dipteran gastrulation.

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

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