Evolution of Intercellular Signaling in Development: EvoInSiDe
Team leaders: Michael Schubert & Jenifer Croce
Evolution of Intercellular Signaling in Development: EvoInSiDe
Team leaders: Michael Schubert & Jenifer Croce

Animal models

Animal models are study objects chosen by researchers to address their scientific questions. The main animal models (the so-called model organisms) include the mouse, the rat, the zebrafish, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, and the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. These model organisms are characterized by an extreme amenability to scientific research, allowing, for example, the genetic modification of their genomes. While experiments can be carried out with relative ease with these model organisms, they are of only limited use when trying to understand the full spectrum of animal diversity. This is where “minor/non-classical” animal groups come in.


Amphioxus is a member of a group of benthic marine filter feeders, called cephalochordates, that live buried in the sand of shallow coastal environments. They constitute the most basal clade of the chordate phylum. Due to this key phylogenetic position and their slow evolutionary rate, cephalochordates are considered valuable proxies for the chordate ancestor, both at the anatomic and genomic levels. Amphioxus thus has a prototypical chordate body plan with a central and a peripheral nervous system. Albeit lacking overt anatomical landmarks, molecular evidence suggests that the central nervous system of amphioxus is vertebrate-like and regionalized into an anterior, an intermediate, and a posterior region. However, we are only just starting to understand the basic functions of the cell types and neural circuits that establish the amphioxus nervous system.

Sea urchin

In phylogenetic terms, sea urchins are members of the echinoderms. Most echinoderms are indirect developers, which means that the fertilized egg gives rise to a planktonic larva that subsequently undergoes metamorphosis resulting in a benthic juvenile. Echinoderms thus form during their life cycle two nervous systems: one in the larva that is completely lost during metamorphosis, and one in the adult that forms independently of the larval one. While the development of the larval nervous system of sea urchins has already been widely studied, that of the adult nervous system has received much less attention. What is known is that the adult nervous system of sea urchins is composed of five radial nerve cords, which are connected by a circumoral nerve ring, and of peripheral nerves innervating the body musculature and the appendages. There is also an enigmatic basiepithelial plexus that covers the entire adult body, but its connection to the radial nerve cords and/or the peripheral nerves remains elusive.


Crinoids are members of the echinoderms, which also include the echinoids (sea urchins), the holothuroids (sea cucumbers), the asteroids (starfish), and the ophiuroids. Within the echinoderms, the crinoids are the sister group of all other echinoderms, which makes them key organisms for studying and understanding echinoderm evolution, including the evolution of their nervous systems. However, crinoids have so far been almost completely ignored by developmental biologists, which is mainly due to the notorious difficulty of collecting wild specimens and rearing embryos and larvae in the laboratory. While some minor aspects of the development of their nervous system are already know, we are just starting to understand the underlying morphogenetic and molecular processes.


Mussels are a group of bivalve mollusks. As for other bivalves, mussel development is characterized by the formation of a shell consisting of two hinged parts. While shell morphogenesis has already been studied extensively, the development of the mussel nervous system is still very poorly understood. What is known is that the adult nervous system consists of three pairs of interconnected ganglia and develops from the larval nervous system during metamorphosis. However, the significant anatomical differences between the larval and adult nervous systems indicate that the formation of the adult nervous system involves a drastic reorganization of neural tissues, which remains to be characterized.


For the latest updates and information on our animals, please contact us at: michael.schubert [at] imev-mer.fr / jenifer.croce [at] imev-mer.fr


Personnels Enseignants

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Carine Barreau
+33 (0) 4 93 76 39 73
Bâtiment Jean-Maetz

Master Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire

Parcours Biologie Cellulaire et du Développement & Cellules Souches


Cette UE se déroule sur 2 semaines et a lieu au laboratoire de Biologie du Développement de Villefranche -sur-Mer (LBDV). Elle inclut l’examen de l’UE d’analyse scientifique (5V089) suivie par les étudiants de la spécialité de Biologie du Développement.

Durant la 1ère semaine, les étudiants participent à des ateliers et des rencontres avec les chercheurs du laboratoire.

Durant la 2ème semaine, les étudiants sont répartis dans les équipes pour y réaliser un mini projet qu’ils présentent le dernier jour du cours. Le cours est donné en anglais pour tout ou partie.

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Présentation orale du mini-projet (binôme, 100 %)  

UE en anglais (partiellement ou totalement)

Master BMC, S3, 6 ECTS

Code UE: 5V200

Responsable de l’UE: Carine BARREAU (MCU): carine.barreau [at] obs-vlfr.fr

Master Biologie Intégrative & Physiologie

Parcours Biologie et Bioressources Marines (BBMA)


Cette UE permet aux étudiants de 1ère année de Master de passer 2 semaines à l’Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche-sur-Mer. Le cours est obligatoire pour les étudiants du Master Biologie Intégrative, parcours Biologie et Bioressources Marines (BBMA) tandis qu’il peut être choisi en option par les étudiants du Master Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (BMC). Les étudiants participent à des ateliers de présentation des organismes marins utilisés par les équipes de recherche du laboratoire (LBDV) et apprennent à les manipuler au cours de travaux pratiques dont les thématiques vont de la Biologie du Développement fondamentale à la toxicologie appliquée.

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Analyse d’article et présentation orale (50%)

Compte-rendu écrit de TP (50%)  

UE partiellement en anglais

Master BIP, S2, 6 ECTS

Code UE: 4B022 (ouverte au Master BMC)

Responsable de l’UE: Carine BARREAU (MCU): carine.barreau [at] obs-vlfr.fr

Licence de Sciences de la Vie

Parcours Biologie et Bioressources marines

Biologie Des Organismes Marins Et Diversité Des Recherches

Cette UE complémentaire se déroule sur 2 semaines et permet aux étudiants de découvrir les différents aspects (métiers & recherche) de l’Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche-sur-Mer (OOV). Ateliers et journal clubs sont organisés afin que les étudiants mettent en pratique leurs connaissances théoriques en biologie et développent leur capacité de communication scientifique en français et en anglais.

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