My research interest is the evolution of the arthropod nervous system (insects, crustaceans, myriapods, chelicerates, onychophorans). In my lab we analyse the molecular and morphological modifications of developmental processes that lead to the formation of the diverse nervous systems in arthropods in order (1) to understand how the developmental mechanisms have been modified in the individual arthropod groups to generate the diverse nervous systems, (2) to link evolutionary changes in developmental processes to adaptive changes in morphology and function of the nervous system, (3) to uncover derived characters of neurogenesis that can be used for resolving euarthropod relationships

  We perform comparative analyses of the development of the nervous system in the following arthropod species: insects: Drosophila melanogaster, Tribolium castaneum; Anopheles gambiae; crustaceans: Daphnia magna, Orchestia cavimana; chelicerates: Cupiennius salei, Achaearanea tepidariorum (spiders), Limulus polyphemus (horseshoe crab), Euscorpius flavicaudis (scorpion); myriapods: Glomeris marginata, Archispirostreptus spec. (millipedes), Strigamia maritima, Lithobius forficatus (centipedes), and an outgroup to the euarthropods, the onychophoran Euperipatoides kanangrensis. We make use of recently sequenced genomes (e.g. Tribolium castaneum (insect), Daphnia pulex (crustacean), Strigamia maritima (myriapod)) and functional tools (RNA interference, chemical inhibitors, transgenics, mutants) to uncover variations in the molecular processes of neurogenesis in arthropods. Furthermore, we apply cell biological and molecular techniques to analyse the morphological processes of neurogenesis and neural expression patterns on the cellular level by using fluorescent dyes/antibodies/RNA probes and confocal laser-scanning microscopy as well as transmission and scanning electron microscopy combined with advanced software programmes for data analysis and 3D reconstruction (e.g. Imaris).