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Identifying the ripples of gene regulation evolution in the evolution of gene sequences to determine when animal nervous systems evolved

Project description

The evolution of gene regulation

Differential gene expression during embryogenesis drives cell differentiation and determines animal development. The coordinated expression of genes is intrinsically complex in nature and is controlled by genes linked to each other through regulatory interactions. The precise function and evolution of these gene regulatory networks remain unclear despite their central role in animal development. The EU-funded RipGEESE project brings together three European research institutions and through a multidisciplinary approach aims to address this knowledge gap from a molecular and phylogenetic perspective. The knowledge generated will unravel unprecedented aspects of the phenotypic diversity encountered in the animal kingdom.


Animals display a bewildering diversity of morphological structures and adaptations that represent dramatic body plan transformations. Forming these diverse body shapes requires the coordinated expression of hundreds of genes in a cell-specific manner; a monumentally complex task that is controlled by gene regulatory networks (GRNs): genes linked to each other by regulatory interactions, which modulate the gene expression in every cell of an organism. Despite their central role in determining animal form and function, it is as of yet unclear how GRNs evolve and how they are linked to the origin of morphological innovation. This project builds on the combined knowledge and expertise of the applicant and three European research institutions in order to tackle this knowledge gap using cutting-edge techniques, and an innovative, multidisciplinary approach that merges molecular, bioinformatic, and phylogenomic methods.


Net EU contribution
€ 337 400,64
BS8 1QU Bristol
United Kingdom

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South West (England) Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area Bristol, City of
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 337 400,64