Neurobiology of Marine Zooplankton

Banner - Neurobiology of Marine Zooplankton
Max Planck Research Group Leader:Gáspár Jékely
Assistant: Birgit Moldovan
Phone:+49 7071 601-1309
Fax:+49 7071 601-1308
Staff:Alphabetical List | Group Pictures | Alumni


Animal nervous systems evolved in a marine environment at the dawn of animal life and diversified during the 'Cambrian explosion', one of the most spectacular events in the history of life. Remarkably little is known about early stages of the evolution of neuronal circuits and nervous systems. The ciliated larvae of various marine invertebrates can give us insights into how simple nervous circuits of marine planktonic animals function and may have evolved. We investigate the nervous system of the ciliated larvae of marine animals using an integrative approach combining molecular biology, neurobiology, behavior, marine ecology and evolution. We culture the marine annelid, Platynereis dumerilii, as our main model species, and other marine species to give a comparative perspective to our investigations. Our objective is to understand the anatomy and function of neuronal circuits that regulate the planktonic migration of ciliated zooplankton larvae. We are able to address this at various levels, linking molecules to neuron types, neurons to larval behaviors and behaviors to marine ecology. Our primary goal is to develop the first detailed systems-level understanding of the nervous system of a marine ciliated larva.