The evolution of vertebrate neural complexity
Vertebrates are distinguished form their closest invertebrate relatives by diverse and sophisticated cranial sensory systems, and by associated changes in brain and spinal cord complexity. Together, these underpin the active and predatory life history of ancestral vertebrates. The evolution of these structures required multiple innovations; in the mechanisms that pattern and specify fields of cells, in the processes that govern the number of cells that form, and in the evolution of new types of cell.
This project will investigate when and how vertebrate spinal cord complexity evolved, utilising experimental tools from cell and developmental biology combined with transcriptomics and comparative genomics. In particular we will seek to understand the evolution and regulation of neural progenitor/stem cells in the spinal cord, focusing on early diverging vertebrate lineages like lampreys and sharks, and on the invertebrate groups most closely related to the vertebrates.
Funding is competitive, via either University/Departmental Studentships or Doctoral Training Centres (http://www.zoo.ox.ac.uk/graduates/applying).
Holland, L.Z., Carvalho, J.E., Escriva, H., Laudet, V., Schubert, M., Shimeld, S.M. and Yu, J.-K. (2013), Evolution of bilaterian central nervous systems: a single origin? EvoDevo 4:27.
Graham, A. and Shimeld, S.M. (2013). The origin and evolution of the ectodermal placodes. J. Anat. 222: 32-40.
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FTE Category A staff submitted: 223.80
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