Drivers of Morphological Complexity

2021-10-28 13:00 - 14:30

Abstract: During development, organisms interact with their natural habitats while undergoing morphological changes, yet we know little about how the interplay between developing systems and their environments impacts animal morphogenesis. Cnidaria, a basal animal lineage that includes sea anemones, corals, hydras, and jellyfish, offers unique insight into the development and evolution of morphological complexity.  In my talk, I will introduce our research on “ethology of morphogenesis,” a novel concept that links the behavior of organisms to the development of their size and shape at both cellular and biophysical levels, opening new perspectives about the design principle of soft-bodied animals. In addition, I will discuss a fascinating feature of cnidarian biology. For humans, our genetic code determines that we will grow two arms and two legs. The same fate is true for all mammals. Similarly, the number of fins of a fish or legs and wings of an insect is embedded in their genetic code. I will describe how sea anemones defy this rule.

Anniek Stokkermans, Aditi Chakrabarti, Ling Wang, Prachiti Moghe, Kaushikaram Subramanian, Petrus Steenbergen, Gregor Mönke, Takashi Hiiragi, Robert Prevedel, L. Mahadevan, and Aissam Ikmi. Ethology of morphogenesis reveals the design principles of cnidarian size and shape development. bioRxiv 2021.08.19.456976

Ikmi A, Steenbergen P, Anzo M, McMullen M, Stokkermans M, Ellington L, and Gibson M (2020). Feeding-dependent tentacle development in the sea anemone Nematostella vectensisNature communications, Sept 02; 11:4399

He S, Del Viso F, Chen C, Ikmi A, Kroesen A, Gibson MC (2018). An axial Hox code controls tissue segmentation and body patterning in Nematostella vectensisScience, Vol. 361, Issue 6409, pp. 1377-1380.
Ikmi A, McKinney SA, Delventhal KM, Gibson MC (2014). TALEN and CRISPR/Cas9 mediated genome editing in the early-branching metazoan Nematostella vectensisNature communications. Nov 24; 5:5486.