Genetics and Evolution of Insect Head and Brain
We work on the developmental genetics of the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum. Our goal is to identify genes that are responsible for head development, to reveal the gene regulatory network and understand the head morphogenesis. Both epidermis and brain stem cells (the so called neuroblasts) arise from the same tissue and use the same patterning cues. Therefore, we study the influence of head patternin genes on brain development. Finally, we aim to understand how the insect head evolved thereby contributing to the ongoing discussion on the infamous "arthropod head problem".
the red flour beetle
Genetics of Head Development
We seek to understand the formation of the head from early regionalization to morphogenesis. To this end we identify the involved genes by forward and reverse genetics and study their function using RNAi, RNA-seq, transgenic and other tools. Further, we follow head development by in vivo imaging. More information.
We want to identify the early signals that give neural stem cells (neuroblasts) of the brain different identitites. We focus on a subset of neuroblasts that are located in a region with similarity to the anterior portion of the vertebrate forebrain and that contribute to the central complex. More information.
Using molecular methods we strive at contributing to ongoing zoological discussions. For instance, gene expression patterns have provided novel insights into the infamous "arthropod head problem". Comparing the gene regulatory networks of Tribolium with those of Drosophila and other arthropods shed light on the evolution of animal development. More information.
Development of novel tools and genome wide RNAi
In addition, we are expanding the technical possibilities of our model system. We have established heat-shock mediated misexpression and the UAS/Gal4 misexpression system and we are expanding the set of in vivo imaging and Gal4 driver lines and have developed tools to restrict RNAi to certain tissues. More information.
Together with Prof. Martin Klingler and Dr. Schoppmeier I am leading the DFG research unit (Forschergruppe) FOR 1234: iBeetle - Functional genomics of insect development and metamorphosis. We perform a large scale RNAi screen iBeetle, which will make the red flour beetle the second arthropod model system that allows hypothesis independent gene identification.This opens novel zoological topics for genetic studies and allows using Tribolium as model for novel pest control strategies. Please refer to the iBeetle homepage for more details.
Announcements, links and resources:
Tribolium mailing list
Subscribe to the international Tribolium community mailing list to remain updated with. Mail to "tribolium-community)at(gwdg.de" in order to send an e-mail to all subscribers.
- iBeetle genome browser (maintained by Mario Stanke) - RNA-seq data, the latest version of re-annotations and the new genome assembly. The new official gene set au5 is close to final.
- Blast server (maintained by Mario Stanke) for searching the new assembly and gene set.
- enhancer traps & lethal insertions: www.geku-base.uni-goettingen.de
- Publications presenting Tribolium castaneum as model system and introducing the head project. The genomic sequence has been published by the Tribolium Sequencing Consortium.