Epigenetics in zebrafish embryogenesis

The role of epigenetic effects in major biological processes is increasingly recognized. Embryo development is known to be a cascade of processes, which is tightly controlled by molecular clocks. The general aim of this project is to investigate the potential role of both paternal and maternal effects for embryo development and larval performance. We are particularly interested in the process of segmentation, i.e. the formation of the somites, which is fundamental to all vertebrates. Recent theoretical work generated predictions about the workings of the segmentation clock through negative feedback loops. However, these models do not incorporate potential epigenetic effects, which may cause variation in the timing of somite formation. The collaboration between two UCEG labs (Ahlberg, Immler) aims to develop theoretical models that allow us to make clear predictions, which can be tested by combining experimental setups with digital image analysis and next generation sequencing using the zebrafish Danio rerio as a model system.