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Comparative developmental biology and regeneration

Our team studies how animals develop and regenerate their body during their lifetime, from the early embryo to the ageing adult. We focus on animals that have not been well studied before, to discover/explore a wider diversity of biological mechanisms and to understand how these mechanisms evolve.


Some animals have the ability to regenerate their body after a severe injury. How they achieve this is still poorly understood. We study leg regeneration in the crustacean Parhyale hawaiensis to address the following questions:
  • Which are the progenitor cells used to re-make missing tissues?   We use genetic markers, live imaging and cell tracking to address this question.
  • To what extent does regeneration mirror development?  Are the same genetic instructions used to develop an organ in the embryo, re-used to regenerate that organ in adult stages?
  • How does regeneration evolve?  Do different animals use similar strategies to regenerate their organs?

New tools and emerging models

Model organisms such as flies and mice provide powerful genetic tools for studying development, but they allow us to probe only a fraction of the diversity found in nature. To extend the reach of developmental genetics research, we develop new tools in emerging model organisms – notably in the crustacean Parhyale hawaiensis and the beetle Tribolium castaneum. Our work focuses on:
  • Establishing transgenesis in new species
  • Establishing widely applicable genetic tools, such as CRISPR-mediated gene editing, clonal analysis and lineage recording
  • Establishing genomics and transcriptomics resources for Parhyale
  • Establishing methods for live imaging and cell tracking

Past projects

In the past, our team has also worked on the following topics:
  • Hox genes and body plan evolution
  • Body axis formation and segmentation
  • Origin of evolutionary novelties
  • Trans-splicing


for more details, go to the averof lab webpage: