|CNRS Marseille-Luminy Institute of Developmental Biology - IBDML|
Institut de Biologie du Développement de Marseille-Luminy (IBDML)
UMR CNRS 7288, Case 907, Parc Scientifique de Luminy
13288 Marseille Cedex 9, France.
+33 4 91 26 92 13
Background and previous research experience
I have an educational background in molecular biosciences with a specialization in developmental biology. I obtained a bachelor degree in biology from the University of Crete, and then a master in molecular biosciences with a major in Developmental Biology from the University of Heidelberg.
During the course of my studies, I have mainly gained knowledge and research experience in the field of developmental biology and in the cross-disciplinary field of evolutionary and developmental biology. In my bachelor thesis, I studied mechanisms of neuronal migration in the developing cerebral cortex in mice. In my master thesis, I worked on cis - regulation in fish and investigated in vivo parameters which can affect the regulatory activity of an enhancer. After the completion of my master studies, I worked on a short project which involved the comparison of the genetic architecture and evolution of a morphological trait between closely related Drosophila species.
Main areas of interest
Understanding mechanisms explaining evolutionary change in the micro- and macro- evolutionary level is the basic axon of my research interests and objectives. Research on the evolution of morphology, behavior and physiology comprise independent but also complementary approaches to understand the mechanistic basis of evolution. As my previous research experience reflects, I am familiar with research on the evolution of morphology. Recently, general principles have emerged in this field especially the significant role of cis- regulatory mutations.
In evolutionary biology, behavior is classically viewed as an important motor of evolutionary change. In contrast with the evolution of morphology, however, very little is known about how a new behavior evolves. Interested in this line of research, I am currently stepping into the field of behavioral neurobiology and evolution. As with the evolution of morphology, it would be exciting to discover principles of how neural circuits associated with behaviors evolve.
Investigating how a new behavior evolves and which are the changes in the neural circuit/s controlling the behavior is the general purpose of my project. To tackle these questions, I am going to compare the oviposition site preference in two closely related Drosophila species. D.suzukii in an invasive pest species known for its propensity to lay eggs in fresh fruit and the prominent serrated ovipositor of the female. On the contrary, D. biarmipes, as most Drosophila species, lays eggs in rotting fruit and has a short and weak ovipositor (Figure 1).
The first part of my project involves the characterization of the egg laying preferences of D. suzukii and D. biarmipes. Behavioral egg laying assays are planned to be performed for this purpose. The second part aims at identifying chemosensory changes likely to be involved in the novel oviposition behavior of D. suzukii. For this, comparative gene expression analysis of chemosensory organs between D.suzukii and D.biarmipes is going to be performed. Genes with the greater differences expressed in chemoreceptors would then be used as an entry point to compare the respective neural circuits.
Figure 1. Comparison of the ovipositor anatomy and the oviposition site selection between D.suzukii, D. biarmipes and D. melanogaster.