Mechanisms of differentiation and evolution in chordates

Lucia Manni , Loriano Ballarin, Fabio Gasparini

Laboratory web site

Tunicates (or Urochordates) are the chordate subphylum considered the sister group of vertebrates. We rear and use two tunicate species, the solitary ascidian Ciona robusta and the colonial ascidian Botryllus schlosseri, for comparative studies aimed to understand their mechanisms of differentiation and evolution.
In B. schlosseri, we compare the mechanisms underlying development via sexual/asexual reproduction and in regeneration. This permits to investigate if: similar mechanisms are used in different developmental pathways, homologies can be recognized among structures at various levels of organization, and conserved mechanisms have been co-opted during the evolution of different taxa. In both C. robusta and B. schlosseri we are defining the ontology of anatomy and development.



Sebastian M Shimeld (Oxford University, UK);

Thomas Stach (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, DE);

Carmela Gissi, Roberta Pennati (University of Milan, IT);

Riccardo Brunetti (Museo Scienze Naturali Venezia IT);

Giorgio Valle, Davide Campagna (University of Padova);

Kohji Hotta (University of Keio, JP);

Ayelet Voskoboynik (University of Stanford, USA);

Delphine Dauga (Bioself Communication, FR)

Selected publications

Pennati R., Ficetola G.F., Brunetti R., Caicci F., Gasparini F., Griggio F., Sato A., Stach T., Kaul S., Gissi C., Manni L., 2015. Evidence of remarkable morphological differences between larvae of the Ciona intestinalis species complex: hints for a valid taxonomic definition of distinct species. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0122879.

Gasparini F., Caicci F., Rigon F., Zaniolo G., Manni L., 2014. Testing an unusual in vivo vessel network model: a method to study angiogenesis in the colonial tunicate Botryllus schlosseri. Sci Rep 4: 6460.

Manni L., Gasparini F., Hotta K., Ishizuka K.J., Ricci L., Tiozzo S., Voskoboynik A., Dauga D., 2014. Ontology for the asexual development and anatomy of the colonial chordate Botryllus schlosseri. PLoS ONE 9(5): e96434.

Gasparini F., Degasperi V., Shimeld S.M., Burighel P., Manni L., 2013. Evolutionary conservation of the placodal transcriptional network during sexual and asexual development in chordates. Dev Dynam 242(6): 752-766.

Caicci F., Gasparini F., Rigon F., Zaniolo G., Burighel P., Manni L., 2013. The oral sensory structures of Thaliacea (Tunicata) and consideration of the evolution of hair cells in Chordata. J Comp Neurol 521: 2756-2771.