University of Cambridge > > Evolution and Development Seminar Series > Amphioxus: an unusual model gives insight into chordate development and regeneration

Amphioxus: an unusual model gives insight into chordate development and regeneration

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The cephalochordate amphioxus is the most basal invertebrate chordate. It is characterized by a relatively simple body plan and morphology, including segmented musculature, a dorsal hollow nerve cord and a notochord. It also has “prototypical” genome architecture and gene content, having diverged prior to the two whole-genome duplications that occurred during vertebrate evolution. As a result, amphioxus is emerging as a good model system for understanding the evolution of developmental mechanisms at the invertebrate-vertebrate transition. Regeneration is widely but patchily distributed among the Metazoa, with most phyla represented by both good and poor regenerators. Vertebrates are no exception, and yet on the whole regenerate poorly compared to invertebrate deuterostomes. Recently, I have shown that amphioxus also shows extensive regenerative potential even as an adult, and that it shares similarities with vertebrate regeneration models. It therefore shows potential as a system to shed light on the evolution of regeneration mechanisms in chordates.

Research in my laboratory focuses on comparative aspects of embryonic development and regeneration using amphioxus as a model. I will present the current state of knowledge on the role of several major signaling pathways in amphioxus development, as well as ongoing efforts to develop amphioxus as a regeneration model system. The long term goal is to bridge the gap in our understanding of the differences between embryonic and post-embryonic developmental processes.

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

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