Comparative Genomics of Non-Model Invertebrates

ESR Project 12: Comparative genomics and phylogenetics of the Deuterostomes

Supervisor: Max Telford (UC London), Co-supervisor Davide Pisani (University of Bristol)

StudentPaschalis Natsidis

Objectives: The Deuterostomes are one of the two major branches of bilaterian animals and are of particular interest to humans as we are members of one its phyla - the Chordata. Clarifying the relationships between groups of deuterostomes will allow subsequent mapping of the evolutionary history of diverse genomic, developmental and morphological characters and is essential to understand the route from invertebrates to vertebrates. While the clade itself is very widely accepted, there is uncertainty over several important aspects of deuterostomes phylogeny including, surprisingly, a weak signal supporting their monophyly. To reconstruct the tree, genomes of some significant missing clades will be assembled and annotated allowing both tree reconstruction and subsequent mapping of genomic characters.

O1: Sequence, assemble and annotate genomes from important unsampled groups (the slow evolving acoelomorph Paratomella rubra and the pterobranch hemichordate Rhabdopleura).

O2: Test the phylogeny of the deuterostomes (including the disputed Xenacoelomorpha).

O3: Reconstruct a time tree of deuterostome evolution.

O4: Reconstruct the genome content of deuterostome ancestors.

O5: Link patterns of gene loss, gain, duplication and diversification in deuterostome genomes with morphological change.
Secondments: Eduardo Pareja (Granada), Alexandros Stamatakis (Heidelberg), Davide Pisani (Bristol).

Print this article