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Kristen Koenig, Harvard, Cephalopod Lens Development and the Evolution of Visual System Complexity
There is an incredible diversity of visual organs found across the animal kingdom. We can see many levels of complexity in photosensitive organs from simple and imperfect eye spots to the most complex and elegant visual systems. Although we can observe this variation in form and function across animals, the molecular mechanisms underlying these differences remains largely unknown.
QUESTIONS IN OUR LAB
In the Koenig Lab we are interested in how eyes evolved. We study this question from a cellular and developmental perspective.
We study the developmental basis of phenotypic diversity found across animal visual systems and we are interested in how developmental processes evolve to generate this diversity.
We study how complex morphological structures are formed, how cell type diversity is generated, and the gene regulatory changes that underlie these processes. We use a comparative approach to study these questions, studying the visual systems of many organisms across the tree. The power of comparative approaches is that they can reveal non-obvious and conserved mechanisms found common to organ formation. Recognizing these mechanisms not only deepens our basic understanding of complex organ development, it can generate new disease candidates and practical new models for human health.