In development, a single cell, the fertilized egg, turns into a complex organism consisting of millions of cells. The cells of the embryo differentiate into many different cell types, and they are arranged in complex spatial patterns. This process generally proceeds with striking precision. Our group is interested in understanding the mechanisms that ensure robustness of developmental pattern formation despite stochastic perturbations. We use the zebrafish embryo as a model system, focusing on the earliest stages of pattern formation and on the development of the heart. Our projects typically combine experimental and theoretical approaches, and it is our goal is to study single cells in their spatial context. To this end, we use and develop novel genome-wide single-cell approaches.
Quantitative Developmental Biology
Head of the Group
Dr. Jan Philipp Junker
Cartoon representation of zebrafish development. Left: 1-cell stage embryo. The cell (gray) is located on top of the spherical yolk sac (orange). Middle: Embryo at 24 hours post fertilization. The body axes and all major organs have formed. The embryo is still attached to the yolk. Right: adult zebrafish. After 2-3 months, the fish reach reproductive age.