Dr. Detlev ArendtAnimal evolution

We are intrigued by one of the great remaining mysteries in animal evolution: how did our central nervous system (CNS) come into existence? What did it look like at first and how did it function? We are especially interested in the CNS of an extinct animal known as Urbilateria, the last common ancestor of humans, flies and most other ‘higher’ animals that live today, which lived some 600 million years ago in the ocean.

Detlev Arendt
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Our lab has chosen to investigate a new molecular animal model, the marine annelid Platynereis dumerilii. As a ‘living fossil’,Platynereis represents an ideal connecting link between vertebrates and the fast evolving protostome models, Drosophila and Caenorhabditis. Genomic resources and molecular techniques have been generated that make it a model marine invertebrate for ocean biology and for organismal systems biology.

arendt fig 1

As characteristic for the Platynereis life cycle with different stages exploring different ecological niches, environmental influences impact directly on the organismal state (eco-devo) or are sensed via the nervous system (organismal neurobiology) and are reflected by the variation on genome, transcriptome or any other level of the cellome.