Cnidaria Hox gene research
One of the most diverse animal phyla are the Cnidaria, which are close to the root of metazoan life and which often appear in two distinct generations and a remarkable variety of body forms. Cnidarians display most of the characters considered as milestones of metazoan evolution. The use of molecular analyses and identifying the genetic determinants of anatomical organizations can provide an integrative test of hypotheses of homologies and independent evidence of the evolutionary relationships among extant taxa.
Regulatory genes of the Antp class, which comprises Hox, ParaHox, NK and other related genes, have been a major factor for the invention and radiation of animal bauplans. Hox genes have been known to be involved in axial patterning in the Cnidaria and across the kingdom of higher animals, Hox genes are organized in clusters whose genomic organization reflects their central roles in patterning along the anterior/posterior (A/P) axis .
Our main research topics include expression and functional studies on these developmental genes in different cnidarian species, with a special focus on the hydrozoan Eleutheria dichotoma.