Abstract: Sponges are ancient animals, a step between protists and the eumetazoans (“true animals”). The genomes of the calcareous sponges Sycon and Leucosolenia contain large families of developmental regulatory genes, in contrast to simple developmental toolkit of the siliceous sponge Amphimedon. Expression of Wnt, TGF-Beta and homeobox genes in Sycon suggests unexpected homology of sponge and eumetazoan body plans.
Biography: Since 2007, Maja Adamska has led a research group at the SARS Centre working on the developmental biology of sponges, with a particular focus on signaling pathways. As a post-doc at the University of Queensland, Maja was a key player in the first sponge genome project, and at the SARS Centre has been a pioneer in comparative genomics and developmental biology of these early diverging animals.