Developmental constraints in the evolution of plants and animals 

Speakers: Andreas Wanninger (University of Vienna, Austria), Rainer Melzer (University College Dublin, Ireland), Thomas Stach (Humboldt University zu Berlin, Germany), Richard Bateman (Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, UK).

Plants and animals evolved fantastic diversity of body plans, morphologies and developmental trajectories, and this diversity is neither infinite nor random. The idea of constraints that development imposes on evolution (and vice versa) helps to explain shaping of evolutionary trajectories. Our symposium is focused on the problem of origin, mechanisms of action and evolutionary consequences of developmental constraints. Objects at all developmental stages representing all animal and plant taxonomic groups are welcome.

Dmitry Sokoloff, Yulia Kraus

Developmental properties driving speciation

Speakers: Beverley Glover (University of Cambridge, UK), Maria D.S. Nunes (Oxford Brookes University, UK), Sophie Nadot (Université Paris-Sud 11, France), Jamie Kostyun (University of Vermont, USA)

In this symposium, we aim to shed light on the relationship between morphological evolution, speciation and the developmental properties of living beings. Evo-devo has been very powerful in explaining how the vast diversity of forms in animals and plants originated, yet the question as to how development and speciation are related has received comparatively little attention. We aim to discuss how concepts such as modularity, phenotypic plasticity, evolvability and developmental robustness can help to explain how new species originate. We also aim to explore the relationship between the species richness of a clade and the developmental properties of the taxa.

Rainer Melzer


Speakers: Abdou Khila (University of Lyon, France), Susan Foster (Clark University, USA), Chris Ledon-Retig (Indiana University, USA).

Developmental processes rely on input from the external environment. Therefore, to understand processes important for adaptation we must integrate ecological with developmental and evolutionary views. Through a range of study systems this symposium will focus on the emerging eco-evo-devo approach towards understanding biodiversity and its broader implications.

Kevin Parsons, Craig Albertson

Evo-devo of color pattern formation

Speakers: David Parichy (University of Virginia, USA), Ricardo Mallarino (Princeton University, USA), Nicola Nadeau (University of Sheffield, UK), Ingo Braasch (University of Oregon, USA).

Both evolutionary and developmental biologists have always been fascinated by the mechanisms shaping the variation in color patterns across the tree of life. The aim of this symposium is to highlight new research, novel insights and recent and upcoming approaches that aim to shed light on the molecular and developmental bases of color pattern formation and evolution.

Claudius Kratochwil

Evolution of developmental patterning within a plant organ

Speakers: Catherine Kidner (University of Edinburgh, UK), Martin Hulskamp (University of Cologne, Germany), Edwige Moyroud (University of Cambridge, UK), Charlie Scutt (ENS de Lyon, France).

This symposium explores the mechanisms that generate differentiation within an organ, allowing regular spacing of differentiated cells, adaxial/abaxial pattern or proximal/distal patterns such as those that attract pollinators to many flowers. Variation of these mechanisms within a genus or family are likely responsible for a good deal of evolutionary novelty, so the new data being produced on how such patterns are formed are crucial to understanding the evolution of diversity in plant form.

Beverley Glover

Evolution of regeneration in Metazoa

Speakers: Maja Adamska (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia), Karen Echeverri (University of Minnesota, USA), Uri Frank (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland), Jochen Rink EMBO Young Investigator Lecture (Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany). 

This symposium is dedicated to the re-emerging field of regeneration, a widespread phenomenon in animals. Using a large variety of metazoans species and modern techniques, we intend to get a general view of the evolution of animal regeneration as well as to test the presence of general principles and/or shared genetic programs that underlie this intriguing phenomenon. A specific attention will be given to the identity, plasticity and differentiation potential of the cells required for the regeneration processes. 

Eve Gazave, Eric Rottinger

Evolution dynamics to shape phenotype and direction in evolution

Speakers: Paul Francois (McGill University, Canada), Chikara Furusawa (Tokyo University, Japan), Erez Braun (Technion, Israel), Koichi Fujimoto (Osaka University, Japan).

This symposium aims to understand how developmental dynamics of phenotypes correlates with direction of evolution. Four speakers in the fields of animals, plants to microbe will intensively quantitatively demonstrate evolutionary and developmental dynamics of gene networks regulating phenotypes (embryogenesis, organogenesis to antibiotic resistance), by combining theoretical analysis with genomics. Some speakers will talk about direct observation of both multiple evolutionary generations (in silico or in vitro) and developmental dynamics, while the others about the collective (high-dimensional) phenotypic dynamics during development that potentially affects direction of evolution.

Koichi Fujimoto, Paul Francois

Floral evolution and development in non-model organisms

Speakers: Sophie Nadot (University Paris-Sud, France), Oriane Hodalgo (Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, UK), Annette Becker (University of Giessen, Germany), Francois Parcy (CNRS, Grenoble, France).

This symposium intends to gather researchers interested in various aspects of floral evolution: from deciphering the genes and gene networks involved in specific trait evolution to reconstructing ancestral states of floral traits. A specific focus will be put on novel model organisms or clades that are now amenable to analysis thanks to new methodologies.

Catherine Damerval, Sophie Nadot

Going beyond embryos - evolution of postembryonic development

Speakers: Alistair P. McGregor (Oxford Brookes University, UK), Marc Robinson-Rechavi (University Lausanne, Switzerland), Christen Mirth (Monash University, Australia).

The evolution of post-embryonic development is largely underrepresented in current Evo-Devo research, what is partly due to technical limitations. With this symposium, we want to highlight the necessity to study the evolution of different stages of the life cycle and we want to discuss future directions in the light of new sequencing, imaging and genome editing methods.

Nico Posnien, Micael Reis

Inherency in development and evolution

Speakers: Mariana Benitez (UNAM, Mexico City, Mexico), Ramray Bhat (IISc, Bangalore, India), Stephane Douady (ENS, Paris, France), Gerd Mueller (University of Vienna, Austria), Stuart Newman (New York Medical College, Valhalla, USA).

The recognition that a fixed range of forms is inherent to every type of matter, and that variability, where it exists, is only expressed within that range, has been generally neglected in modern evolutionary biology. This symposium will describe empirical work on intrinsic propensities of multicellular entities such as embryos and organ primordia of animals and plants to assume stereotypical forms.

Gerd Mueller, Stuart Newman

Mechanisms of gene regulatory network evolution

Speakers: Michael Akam (University of Cambridge, UK), Liam Dolan (University of Oxford, UK), Marc Halfon (State University of New York, USA), Daniel Meulemans Medeiros (University of Colorado, USA).

Organismal characters are encoded in the genome by large gene regulatory networks (GRN). This symposium focuses on mechanisms of evolution of regulatory circuits and  GRN architectures, spanning from plant to animal, aiming at fostering an interdisciplinary discussion among different fields of Evo Devo.

Maria Ina Arnone, Paola Oliveri
MorphoEvoDevo - a multilevel approach to elucidate the evolution of metazoan organ systems

Andreas Wanninger (University of Vienna), Angelika Stollewerk (QM University of London), Conrad Helm (Sars Bergen)

This symposium will highlight recent progress of our understanding of the evolution of animal nervous systems and discuss the necessity of integrating morphogenetic data in the interpretation of molecular-driven EvoDevo studies. Only a combined methodological approach will eventually allow a sound reconstruction of ground patterns and last common ancestors of animal groups.

Sabrina Kaul-Strehlow

Niche construction, behavior, epigenetics, and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis: uncovering the links between genes, development, form, function, ecology, and evolution and implications for Evo-Devo

Speakers: Rui Diogo (Howard University, USA), Kevin Laland (University of St. Andrews, UK), Frietson Galis, (Leiden University, The Netherlands), Sharlene Santana (University of Washington, USA).

The symposium will describe to evodevoists what are the new developments in evolutionary biology in the last year, including those that lead to the extended evolutionary synthesis, and provide specific examples about the importance of constraints, randomness, and behavioral drives in evolution and their crucial implications for evo-devo.

Rui Diogo

Novelties in cell type evolution

Speakers: Pawel Burkhardt (SARS, Norway), Sabrina Kaul-Strehlow ( University of Vienna, Austria), Maria Ina Arnone ( Stazione Zoologica, Italy), Gunter Wagner (Yale University, USA)

Our symposium will address the evolution of novelty, with an emphasis on cell types. New cell types arise in various ways, for instance via the splitting of an ancestral cell into two sister cell types, or from the evolutionary fusion of two unrelated cell types. In both cases, novel cell types often evolve new or specialized functions. This symposium will explore the molecular mechanisms that are key for the evolution of novel cell types and their functional diversity. Talks will discuss the origination of novel cell type gene regulatory networks, and cover the latest research into the evolution of cell type functional modules, such as protein complexes and larger macromolecular structures.   

Detlev Arendt, Gaspar Jekely, Jacob Musser

Phenotypic robustness, fluctuations and plasticity

Speakers: Marie-Anne Felix (ENS, France), Naoki Irie (University of Tokyo, Japan), Sinisa Bratulic (MIT and Harvard, USA), Kunihiko Kaneko (University of Tokyo, Japan).

How are robust phenotypes shaped through evolution, while preserving room for plasticity for evolvability?  We discuss the recent advances to address the question and characterize the developmental constraint in evolution, by integrating approaches from cell, and evolutionary biology, bioinformatics, and theoretical biophysics, and provide the future perspective in the quantitative evo-devo studies.

Kunihiko Kaneko

Progress and open questions in Spiralian evodevo

Speakers: Jonathan Q. Henry (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA), Svetlana Maslakova (University of Oregon, USA), Andreas Hejnol (SARS, Norway), Mette Handberg-Thorsager (Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Germany).

The comparative study of spiral cleavage was one of the cornerstones of evolutionary thinking back in the late 19th Century. However, modern EvoDevo has only began to unravel the evolutionary and developmental basis for spiral cleavage and Spiralia evolution. Recent progress in phylogenomics, and the implementation of modern molecular, microscopy, and cell biology techniques in a handful of spiralian model systems have made that possible. Yet many questions remain opened, and the comparative, evolutionary study of spiralian development arises as one of the most fascinating research fields.

Jose M. Martin-Duran, Cristina Grande

Rewiring motor systems to evolve a vertebrate head 

Speakers: S. Kuratani (RIKEN, Japan), J.-F. Brunet (INSERM, CNRS, France), J. Glover (SARS, University of Iowa, Norway), B. Fritzsch (University of Iowa, USA)

This symposium will provide unique perspective vertebrate head evolution, detailing the evolution of motor systems controlling jaw and head movements, eye movements, parasympathetic control of all head glands and facial branchial motor derived gain control of inner ear hair cells. It will feature how molecular evolution provides the opportunity to diversify cranial motor neurons to achieve novel functions unique to the head motor system.

Bernd Fritzsch

Single-cell RNA-seq: a powerful new approach for understanding the evolution of development

Speakers: Chris Fincher (MIT, Cambridge, USA), Arnau Sebe-Pedros (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel), Carlos Ortiz Ramírez (New York University, USA), Mara Lawniczak (Sanger Institute, UK)

This symposium will provide an introduction to the considerable technical and analytical challenges, as well as the tremendous potential returns, that lie ahead for evo-devo as this field begins to adopt the methods of single-cell genomics. Speakers will showcase mature empirical work focused on defining cell types quantitatively, understanding cell-level homology in evolutionarily divergent organisms, on dissecting developmental processes through time, and on "rediscovering" the spatial context of single-cell measurements through integration with in situ hybridization and live imaging data. We will also discuss the technical aspects of applying diverse high-throughput single-cell methods in established and emerging models from across the diversity of eukaryotes.          
Christopher E Laumer 

Systems biology of pattern formation

Speakers: James Briscoe (The Francis Crick Institute, UK), Patrick Mueller (Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tuebingen, Germany), Ezzat El-Sherif (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany), Erik Clark (University of Cambridge, UK).

The symposium focuses on systems biology approaches (both experimental and computational) to study different embryonic pattern formation mechanisms and their evolution.

Ezzat El-Sherif, Erik Clark 

The Evo-Devo of appendages

Speakers: Joost Woltering (University of Konstanz, Germany), Gareth Fraser (University of Sheffield, UK), Igor Schneider (Federal University of Para (UFPA) Brazil), Brooke Armfield (University of Florida, USA).   

Be it limbs, fins, genitals, antennae, scales or leaves, appendages have traditionally attracted the attention of developmental and evolutionary biologist alike. In this symposium we aim to address the evolutionary differentiation of appendages in an integrative way, ranging from function through morphology down to the underlying differences in gene regulatory mechanisms.

Joost Woltering 

The role of boundaries in organismal diversification 

Speakers: Aman Husbands (Ohio State University, USA),Jill Preston (University of Vermont, USA),Karen Sears (University of Illinois, USA)

In this symposium, we are bringing together researchers who are taking each in their own right an interdisciplinary approach to explore the emergent properties of boundaries and their influences on the diversification of organisms and their ecosystems. Looking into historic boundary formation from the cellular and developmental to the organismal and ecosystem level, we can start to understand how boundaries have influenced variability in species interactions and developmental processes that are required for the evolution and diversification of form and function. We will further discuss how future changes at the global scale will likely impact the formation and flux of boundaries into the future, and how these fluxes will impact the processes underlying species diversity and diversification.

Madelaine Bartlett, Chelsea D. Specht 

Understanding morphological diversity at different evolutionary scales: Towards a multi scale synthesis

Speakers: Elena Kramer (Harvard University, USA), Mark Rebeiz (University of Pittsburgh, USA), Felicity Jones (Max Planck Institute, Tuebingen, Germany), Miltos Tsiantis (Max Planck Institute, Cologne, Germany).

The symposium will emphasize: (1) the interplay of different evolutionary forces and genomic organization in generating diversity and the distribution of size effects of loci underlying variation, (2) the use of multiscale approaches to understand how genetic changes are translated into diversity in form, (3) the assembly of specific molecular modules that underlie novelty and their effect on morphogenesis; with the goal of extracting broad principles that can help conceptualize the morphogenetic basis for evolutionary change across complex eukaryotes.

Miltos Tsiantis, Angela Hay 

What does genotype-phenotype association tell us about development?

Speakers: Mihaela Pavlicev (Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, USA), Ian Dworkin (McMaster University, Canada), Neus Martinez-Abadias (Centre for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona, Spain), Benedikt Hallgrimsson (University of Calgary, Canada).

Developmental biologists study the manifold molecular, cellular, and physical processes in development, and how they intertwine to produce the adult organism. In quantitive genetics, development is often conceptualised as a "genotype-phenotype map", estimated by the statistical associations of genetic loci and measured phenotypes. This symposium discusses the degree to which genetic association studies can inform us about development, what the conceptual and practical challenges are, and how such models help us to understand organismal evolution.

Philipp Mitteroecker