Research Field and Topics
Our group is interested in the phylogeny and evolution of arthropods and other metazoans. For this purpose, we use an integrated approach combining morphological and developmental data. We study the embryonic and larval development of arthropods, mainly crustaceans and the impact of these data on the interpretation of phylogenetic relationships and evolution. One focus lies on detailed studies on cleavage patterns and cell lineage of the germ band during segmentation, neurogenesis and limb formation. Another main topic deals with the comparative analysis of complex morphological structures such as reproductive organs, muscle patterns, and nervous systems. For our studies we apply a variety of techniques such as SEM, histology, fluorescence microscopy, CLSM, immunohistochemistry, micro-computer-tomography, 3D reconstruction, single cell labelling, 4D microscopy, and light-sheet-microscopy.
Theoretically we contribute to an evolutionary perspective of arthropod cleavage and we discuss the implications of the Articulata/Ecdysozoa controversy on our understanding of the evolution of cleavage and segmentation patterns. Furthermore, we are interested in theoretical aspects of morphology such as homology research and phylogenetics. In the framework of the cluster of excellence “Image Knowledge Gestaltung” we pursue an interdisciplinary approach involving art historians, mathematicians, and psychologists to address questions of the perception of animal structures and theoretical aspects of the comparative method in biology and transformation processes in ontogeny, phylogeny, and artefacts (project Dynamic Form).