A Systems Biology Approach to Understanding Mechanisms of Organismal Evolution

Satellite Short Course of the Sixth International Meeting of the

Latin American Society for Developmental Biology

Universidad de la Republica & Institut Pasteur de Montevideo, Montevideo, Uruguay

April 16—25, 2012

Organizers:  Mike Levine, Ida Chow, Flavio Zolessi, Nibia Berois






The lectures and practical sessions of this course will provide the students a broad, cross-disciplinary strategy to evolutionary biology, to the most current techniques/approaches used in its studies, to further their understanding for biodiversity derived from evolutionary processes. 


The following themes will be addresses in the course:


1- Using comparative genomic and bioinformatics approaches to understand evolutionary processes:  Online gene and protein sequence databases and tools for sequence analysis; analyses and comparison of genomic sequences from coding and non-coding regions of different species of organisms; use of different bioinformatics strategies and tools to retrieve information for evolutionary studies.


2- Evolution of regulatory networks, from prokaryotes to multicellular eukaryotes:  

Comparison of gene regulatory networks underlying segmentation and dorsal-ventral

patterning in a variety of organisms; comparison of expression profiles of key developmental patterning genes.


3- Ecological influences on evolution: Appropriate and statistically sound design of an experiment that answers questions in evolutionary biology using genomic technology and bioinformatics.


4- Chordates as evolutionary model organisms: Comparison of transcriptome data from different species and timepoints to identify critical differences in expression of developmental genes; understanding loss of structures vs. gain of structures evolutionarily and how gene expression provides basis to understand morphological differences, problems of homology and homologous structures. 


5- Adaptive evolution in fishes: Fishes are the most diverse group of vertebrates and will be used to understand how they evolved to adapt to very different conditions.


6- Ecological evolution of arthropods: Relationship of arthropods’ genome and gene expression with their habitat in the context of evolution.


7- Evolution of regenerative processes: Comparative approach on regenerative capacities of different organisms and their genomic differences during regeneration. 


8- Current issues roundtables: Care and use of animals in research and education; Ethical and educational issues on teaching of evolution; Scientific publishing


Some techniques to be introduced in the course:

-Analysis of microarray and mRNA-seq data in related species: normalization algorithms, identification of statistically significant differentially enriched genes, clustering analysis, biological process analysis and motif identification

-Network mapping: ChIP-chip and ChIP-seq, inference of network modules from expression data, protein-protein interaction mapping, data integration using diverse data types

-Free software: R programming, TMeV software, Cytoscape and other online tools.


This course will consist of 40-45 min lectures with time for discussion; practical sessions for students divided into groups; wrap-up and discussion sessions; roundtables and poster sessions.


Relevant reading materials (original research articles and reviews) will be assigned to the students before start of the course to prepare them for the topics they may not be familiar with.

All students will present posters of their own research at the short course and the subsequent 6th LASDB International Meeting to be held in Montevideo as well (April 26-29, 2012).













For additional information please contact Ida Chow at [email protected]

For subject title use "2012 short course"


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