3) Molecular mechanisms
Dissect mechanisms of phenotypic control at genetic and cellular levels.
By using developed concepts (related to objective 1 and 2) and established model systems (plants, fish, mouse, sponges, choanozoa), we will investigate the evolution of the molecular mechanisms underlying epigenetics and how epigenetic mechanisms have evolved and are involved in regulation and maintenance of developmental processes. We wish to investigate whether the degree of phenotypic plasticity in unicellular and multicellular organisms across kingdoms can be correlated to the complexity of epigenetic factors in relation to gene silencing, transcriptional initiation and elongation, faithful splicing, replication, or imprinting. We will explore this by studying how cells in multicellular organisms can reuse the same or very similar factors in cell-to-cell communication and responses to the environment, but still have a cell specific output. This may be due to epigenetic mechanisms which secure that different subsets of the genome is available in different cell types and tissues. Revealing the molecular mechanisms of development will have implications on the reconstruction of phylogenies and for deeper understanding of historical changes reflected in the paleontological data of many eukaryote lineages.