Phylogeny, anatomy, evolution

Our group is interested in early animal evolution, more particularly the origin and evolution of fundamental metazoan cell types, and body plan features (such as symmetry and polarity axes)

To address these issues we use model organisms that belong to the early-diverging (non-bilaterian) animal phyla Cnidaria (the hydrozoan Clytia hemisphaerica) and Ctenophora (the sea gooseberry Pleurobrachia pileus). Our research involves an integrative approach embracing reconstructions of the history of key families of regulatory or structural genes, comparative analyses of their expression and functions in our models, as well as efforts to improve our understanding of basal animal phylogeny (using phylogenomics), and the comparative anatomy of early-diverging animal phyla. 

Examples of on going projects include studies on the Wnt/-catenin signalling pathway in Clytia and Pleurobrachia, and comparative approaches to the evolution of bilaterality in the anthozoan cnidarians.


Jager, M., Dayraud, C., Mialot, A., Quéinnec, E., Le Guyader, H. & Manuel, M. 2013. Evidence for involvement of Wnt signalling in body polarities, cell proliferation, and the neurosensory system in an adult ctenophore. PLOS ONE 8(12): e84363.

Leclère, L., Jager, M., Barreau, C., Chang, P., Le Guyader, H., Manuel, M., Houliston, E. 2012. Maternally localized germ plasm mRNAs and germ cell/stem cell formation in the cnidarian Clytia. Dev. Biol. 364: 236-248.

Houliston, E., Momose, T. & Manuel, M. 2010. Clytia hemisphaerica: a jellyfish cousin joins the laboratory. Trends in Genetics 26(4): 159-167.