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Research

The Emmy Noether group headed by Dr. Panfilio focuses on embryonic development in multiple species of insects as excellent models to investigate both (a) epithelial tissue morphogenesis and (b) molecular evolution and comparative genomics across macroevolutionary time scales. Extraembryonic tissues dynamically envelop and protect the embryo. To do so, these epithelial tissue sheets exhibit many cell shape change and tissue remodeling behaviors that are typical of animal development. We explore their activity and genetic regulation through functional, live imaging investigations, primarily in the flour beetle Tribolium castaneum. For example, this work includes light sheet fluorescence microscopy recordings for time-lapse and three-dimensional reconstruction applications, for both wild type, healthy development and RNA interference treatments. At the same time, we focus on the milkweed bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus, as an experimentally tractable model for comparative genomics investigations of the Hemiptera, the largest order of hemimetabolous insects. For both of these research areas, our main aim is to understand the underlying patterns and regulatory control that strike a balance between species-specific features and robust development.