We mainly use the clawed toad Xenopus laevis as a model organism to study their development. In addition, we try to elucidate evolutionary origins and modifications of cranial sense organs by comparison with other chordates.
In previous studies we cloned the Xenopus Eya1 gene and provided the first detailed description and fatemap of placode development in Xenopus. We also did the first comprehensive functional analyses of upstream regulators of Eya1 and Six1 in Xenopus placodes and analysed the role of Eya1 and Six1 in regulating neurogenesis in placodes. In recent studies, we used RNA-Seq of the placodal transcriptome after injection of hormone-inducible constructs of Eya1 and Six1 to identify putative Eya1 and Six1 target genes. We currently study the function of these target genes and of Eya1 protein interaction partners in placode development. We also investigate how cell fate decisions for sensory and neuronal progenitors are regulated in early embryos. We also pursue broader questions of sensory development and evolution as well as more general theoretical problems concerning the evolution of developmental processes.
Please see here for research publications. Furthermore, for details on our current research endeavours please see our research group page here.