I am an evolutionary geneticist with special concern in early developmental biology and furthermore, I’m from the bottom of my heart a field ornitologist. Currently I’m working as a postdoc in the ITZ, division of Ecology and Evolution. 

 

My main area of interest is gaining an understanding of the genetic mechanisms in the early embryonic development of metazoans - with special regard to Hox-gene expression and function in both, pterygote insects and basal metazoans (diploblasts). These include the origins of axis formation, the evolution of unique cell types and the understanding how morphological traits evolved. In this context, I continue to develop functional techniques to uncover novel molecular mechanisms underlying unrevealed macroevolutionary processes. Many of these studies utilize cnidarians (i.e. Eleutheria dichotoma), placozoans (i.e Trichoplax adhaerens) and dragonflies (i.e. Ischnura elegans). 

 

The thesis I wrote for my diploma of biology was about the function of three regulatory genes (Cnox-1, Cnox-2 & Cnox-5) in the cnidarian Eleutheria dichotoma. My aim was to evaluate the developmental roles of these Hox/ParaHox-like genes in a basal diploblastic metazoan by means of oligo-induced gene silencing. 

During my PhD thesis, I continued working on this topic and I began working on one of the most (or indeed the most) basal metazoans, the placozoan Trichoplax adhaerens, and its mtDNA structure. Furthermore I carried on working on developmental gene expression and functional studies at the root of metazoan evolution. Since 2005 I have been involved in different projects in the Schierwater and Hadrys laboratories, mainly dealing with evolutionary and conservation genetics on both diploblasts and dragonflies. My previous experience in establishing new molecular biology techniques will be applied to developing a dragonfly system for experimental work in the laboratory, aided by the recent breakthrough in the Hadrys lab to establish in situ expression studies and knock downs in dragonflies on developmental genes. This work is a rare opportunity to gain insights into the role of Hox genes in wing development in a species with unique evolutionary placement. 

 

 

Current projects:

A. Unraveling the evolution of the fundamental bauplan transition from wingless to flying insects: Hox gene studies in dragonflies (Odonata). 

B. Gene expression and functional studies in placozoans

C. Monitoring bird species in germany

 Main methods: 

A. In situ hybridisation

B. RNA-interference and Morpholino induced gene silencing

Selected publications:

JAKOB W, SAGASSER S, DELLAPORTA SL, HOLLAND PWH, KUHN K & SCHIERWATER B (2004): The Trox-2 Hox/ParaHox gene of Trichoplax (Placozoa) marks an epithelial boundary. Development Genes and Evolution 214: 170-175.

KAMM K, SCHIERWATER B, JAKOB W, DELLAPORTA SL & MILLER DJ (2006): Axial patterning and diversification in the Cnidaria predate the Hox System. Current Biology 16: 1-7.

DELLAPORTA SL, XU A, SAGASSER S, JAKOB W, MORENO MA, BUSS LW & SCHIERWATER B (2006): Mitochondrial genome of Trichoplax adhaerens supports Placozoa as the basal lower metazoan phylum. PNAS 103 no. 23: 8751-8756.

JAKOB W & SCHIERWATER B (2007): Changing hydrozoan bauplans by silencing Hox-like genes. PLoS ONE, 2 (8): e694.

SCHIERWATER B, EITEL M, JAKOB W, OSIGUS HJ, HADRYS H, KOLOKOTRONIS SO & DESALLE R (2009): Concatenated Molecular and Morphological Analysis Sheds Light on Early Metazoan Evolution and Fuels a Modern "Urmetazoon" Hypothesis. PLoS Biol 7 (1): e1000020. 

DE JONG D, EITEL M, JAKOB W, OSIGUS HJ, HADRYS H, DESALLE R & SCHIERWATER B (2009): Multiple Dicer Genes in the Early-Diverging Metazoa. Mol Biol Evol 26 (6): 1333-1340.

HADRYS H, SIMON S, KAUNE B, SCHMITT O, SCHÖNER A, JAKOB W & SCHIERWATER B (2012): Isolation of Hox Cluster Genes from Insects Reveals an Accelerated Sequence Evolution Rate. PLoS ONE 7 (6): e34682.

 

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