Organizers are specialized regions of the embryo that induce and pattern adjacent tissues. The aim of this project is to characterize a novel yet-unidentified organizer of the embryonic body, namely that of the amphibian external gill. This structure is a crucial body appendage of larval forms of animals that are phylogenetically and ecologically placed at the water-to-land transition, a hallmark event in the vertebrate evolution. Based on our preliminary data in the salamander, the axolotl, we reason that the outgrowth and axial patterning of this appendage is regulated by an organizing center, possibly related to the apical ectodermal ridge (AER) of the limb.

The task of the successful PhD. candidate will be to employ a set of classical experimental-embryological, and up-to-date molecular and functional approaches in order to characterize the proposed organizer at various levels of biological investigation. The PhD candidate is expected to be passionate about science and evo-devo in particular. Previous experience with hands-on embryology, transcriptomics or CRISPR/Cas9 skills is advantageous although not required. We expect soft-skill qualities such as responsibility, thoroughness and team spirit skills. In turn, the candidate will become a part of the supportive and collaborative young research team interested in the evolution of vertebrate development.

Building on previous lab’s experimental-embryological work using the Mexican axolotl, the project (searching to identify a novel organizer of vertebrate embryonic development) has potentially broad impact on our understanding of the evolution of development.

Five relevant publications of the research group: 

Stundl J, Soukup V, Franek Pospisilova A, Psutkova V, Pšenička M, Cerny R, Bronner M, Meulemans Medeiros D & Jandzik D* (2022) Efficient CRISPR mutagenesis in sturgeon demonstrates its utility in large, slow-maturing vertebrates. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology 10, 750833.

Pospisilova A, Stundl J, Brejcha J, Metscher BD, Psenicka M, Cerny R & Soukup V* (2022) The remarkable dynamics in the establishment, rearrangement, and loss of dentition during the ontogeny of the sterlet sturgeon. Developmental Dynamics 251, 826-845.

Annona G, Sato I, Pascual-Anaya J, Braasch I, Voss R, Stundl J, Soukup V, Kuratani S, Postlethwait JH & D’Aniello S* (2022) Evolution of nitric oxide synthase family in vertebrates and novel insights in gill development. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 289, 20220667.

Soukup V*, Tazaki A, Yamazaki Y, Pospisilova A, Epperlein HH, Tanaka EM & Cerny R (2021) Oral and palatal dentition of axolotl arises from a common tooth competent zone along the ecto-endodermal boundary. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology 8, 622308.

Stundl J, Pospisilova A, Jandzik D, Fabian P, Dobiasova B, Minarik M, Metscher BD, Soukup V* & Cerny R* (2019) Bichir external gills arise via heterochronic shift that accelerates hyoid arch development. eLife 8, e43531.

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