Project Info

Molecular evolution of basal metazoans

The origin of Metazoa remains one of the most enigmatic of all phylogenetic problems. In the context of the SPP "Deep Metazoan Phylogeny", the project "Molecular evolution of basal metazoans" will focus on representative model organisms near the base of multicellular animals. We will help to shape the root of the metazoan phylogenetic tree by generating cDNA-libraries required for the EST-project, during which a multitude of ESTs of each species selected will be sequenced. Subsequently, those sequences common to other "Deep Metazoan Phylogeny" EST-projects will be phylogenetically analysed. Furthermore, by applying molecular biological techniques, every cDNA-library generated will be screened for preselected genes of highest informative value that are found with the utmost probability in a broad range of species. Through these means and by integrating data generate by the "Deep Metazoan Phylogeny"-morphologists we will not only address questions concerning the relationships between taxa (e. g. monophyly versus paraphyly of Porifera) but also will we contribute to the validation/falsification of hypotheses discussed controversially, regarding the lowest metazoan phyla. Moreover, we will analyse the phylogeny of domanial proteins/protein domains (involved in programmed cell death [PCD]) that evolved during the transition from unicellular organisms to Metazoa. Due to their involvement in morphogenesis (e. g. elimination of redundant cells during the formation of body-cavities and nervous system) especially those gene-products implicated in PCD will also provide the genetic background and the link to those structures analysed by the SPP's morphologists.


Dr. Mathias Wiens, Universitaet Mainz, Mainz