Daria Gavriouchkina, A scRNA-seq Approach to Deciphering the Convergent Evolution of the Cephalopod Visual System: Do Differences Make a Difference
Title: A scRNA-seq Approach to Deciphering the Convergent Evolution of the Cephalopod Visual System: Do Differences Make a Difference
Speaker: Daria Gavriouchkina, Molecular Genetics (Rokshar) Unit
Abstract: The complexity of visual apparatus in living beings has long puzzled evolutionary biologists and neuroscientists alike. The cephalopod eye has particularly stood out as its camera-like structure bears remarkable resemblance to the vertebrate eye, and has been deemed the quintessential example of convergent evolution.However, there are substantial differences between the vertebrate and cephalopod eye. Therefore, the cephalopod and vertebrate visual systems constitute a unique opportunity to carry out a comparative study of the regulatory mechanism controlling not only the development of convergent organs but also the independent acquisition of cell types ensuring similar signal processing function.
To investigate this, we established a new cephalopod model - the Japanese bobtail squid Euprymna berryi for which we generated tools and resources including a chromosome-scale genome assembly. We used single-cell transcriptomics to examine molecular signatures present in the visual processing cells of cephalopods and what information they can yield concerning how visual processing centers are set up in other non-vertebrates. Furthermore, by comparing the distinct molecular signatures of cephalopod cells with the much studied vertebrate retinal and visual processing center cell types, we assess which is the respective part of ancestral and novel gene complement that ensure similar functions in the two systems.
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