Evolution and development of morphology and behavior
Group leader : B. Prud’homme
Our objective is to elucidate the genetic and cellular mechanisms at the origin of the diversity of shapes and behaviors in animals.
Animal species are characterized by a great diversity of morphological forms, color patterns and behaviors. Our research aims to understand how these different traits are encoded by the genetic information contained in the genome, and to elucidate how these traits evolve between species. To do this, we are studying different species of insects, mainly Drosophila flies but also ladybirds. We are studying the formation and evolution of color patterns on the wings of these insects, the morphogenesis of certain body parts, and reproductive behaviors such as courtship or the choice of egg-laying site.
We are studying in particular a Drosophila species native to Asia and recently arrived in Europe, Drosophila suzukii. This fly is an agricultural pest that targets many crop fruit while they are still ripening, such as strawberries, cherries, raspberries and many others, causing very important economic losses. Drosophila suzukii behaves unlike most other Drosophila species, which prefer to lay their eggs on decaying fruit. We seek to understand why and how the choice of egg-laying site has changed in Drosophila suzukii. We are studying the genetic mechanisms that control oviposition behavior, but also the formation of the oviposition organ (which has lengthened in Drosophila suzukii compared to other species, allowing it to pierce the skin of ripe fruits). Finally, this species, like some evolutionary close cousins, is recognizable by the presence of a small black spot at the wing tips, but only in males. We are trying to understand how this coloration pattern appeared on the wings of this species, and how it is limited to males, when both sexes share practically the same genome.
To study the evolution of shape and behavior in our Drosophila species, we use genetics, genomics, functional transgenesis, imaging, and neural circuit analysis approaches, in a comparative manner between species.
- Formation and evolution of coloration patterns.
The shape of these coloration patterns closely reflects the expression profiles of the genes involved in the appearance of these patterns. Thus, understanding the development and evolution of these pigment patterns essentially means understanding the regulation of the expression of these genes, as well as their evolution. We are therefore seeking to better understand how a particular gene expression profile is encoded by the cis-regulatory sequences of a gene, and how, when applicable, it is sex-specific.
- Evolution of epithelial morphogenesis.
The adult form of animals is dictated by the shape of each of the organs and anatomical parts that compose it. And the shape of the organs is sculpted during embryonic development by the shape and collective organization of the cells that make up that organ. We study the morphogenesis of the egg-laying organ in Drosophila species, and in Drosophila suzukii in particular. To do this, we are studying in a comparative manner how the epithelial cells that form this organ have changed shape and arrangement during evolution. This project is based on genetic, imaging, and image analysis approaches.
- Evolution of oviposition site preference.
Drosophila suzukii behaves inversely to other Drosophila species, preferring to lay eggs on ripe rather than decaying fruit. We seek to identify the signals, especially chemical ones, as well as the neural circuits that perceive and interpret these signals to guide the innate choice towards a favorite oviposition site. We use neural perturbation approaches to characterize and compare neural circuits and the behaviors they govern across species. We are developing genetic tools in Drosophila suzukii to discretely target neuronal populations, and be able to visualize them, record their activity, and manipulate them functionally.
July 8th, 2020
Near-chromosome level genome assembly of the fruit pest Drosophila suzukii using long-read sequencing
June 17th, 2019
Evolution of ovipositor length in Drosophila suzukii is driven by enhanced cell size expansion and anisotropic tissue reorganization
June 4th, 2019
A short guide to insect oviposition: when, where and how to lay an egg
August 23rd, 2018
The genomic basis of color pattern polymorphism in the harlequin ladybird
March 8th, 2017
Evolution of Multiple Sensory Systems Drives Novel Egg-Laying Behavior in the Fruit Pest Drosophila suzukii
July 24th, 2014
Looking under the lamp post: neither fruiless nor doublesex contribute to the evolution of male courtship in Drosophila
March 22nd, 2013
Emergence and diversification of a Drosophila pigmentation pattern through the assembly and evolution of a novel gene regulatory module
June 5th, 2011
Body plan innovation in treehoppers through the evolution of an extra wing-like appendage.
February 23rd, 2013
Smells like evolution: the role of chemoreceptor evolution in behavioral change.
March 6th, 2012
Evolution: return of the ant supersoldiers.
January 1st, 2012
Evolution of multiple additive loci caused divergence between Drosophila yakuba and D. santomea in wing rowing during male courtship.
October 12th, 2011
Behavioural neuroscience: Fruity aphrodisiacs.
December 9th, 2010
Evolutionary biology: Genomic hourglass.
October 15th, 2009
Behavioural neurobiology: Chemical love.
August 1st, 2009
The causes of repeated genetic evolution.
May 1st, 2008
May 15th, 2007
Emerging principles of regulatory evolution.
July 1st, 2006
Monkey see, monkey do.
April 20th, 2006
Repeated morphological evolution through cis-regulatory changes in a pleiotropic gene.
February 3rd, 2005