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HOR.MOON Report Summary

Project ID: 260564
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Austria

Final Report Summary - HOR.MOON (Moonlight-dependent Hormones Orchestrating Lunar Reproductive Periodicity and Regeneration)

Reproductive cycles in a broad range of marine animals are regulated in a monthly fashion, but the molecular mechanisms underlying these cycles are only poorly understood. This project focused on the molecular analysis of the marine bristle worm, Platynereis dumerilii. This species has a long tradition as a model for how reproduction in such marine animals is controlled. However, these classical experiments had never been taken to the era of molecular biology. The aim of the project was therefore twofold: (i) to make Platynereis amenable to modern molecular investigation; (ii) to identify molecules that are involved in the reproductive control of this species.

The project was able to achieve both of these goals:
(i) In the framework of this project, the team was able to make significant contributions to the establishment of critical functional tools for the bristle worm. These included transient and stable transgenesis, targeted genome editing, and targeted cell ablations. All of these tools now make the bristle worm an excellent model for functional molecular research.
(ii) By combining the molecular analysis with a rigorous biochemical approach, the team was able to identify the hormonal master regulator – the long sought-after “brain hormone” – that orchestrates reproduction of the bristleworm. The identification of this hormone not only provides a novel entry point to unravel the enigmatic timing mechanism of the worm, but it also shed light on the evolution of lipid-like hormones, and the unexpected vulnerability of worms by insecticides acting on this hormone pathway.

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