Our research mainly focuses on sponges (Porifera). These animals evolved early during the phylogenesis of multicellular animals (Metazoa). For this reason, sponges allow us to gain insights in to the very early evolution of biological modules which play important roles for all multicellular animals. Such modules may be involved in body formation, cell-cell communication, secretion or development, just to mention a few. Additionally, sponges show interesting biomechanical features like spicule reinforced tissue. We are also interested in sponge systematics and phylogeny which we address morphologically and genetically. This integrative research approach ("How do our sponge models work?") is backed up by a wide methodological repertoire.
At porifera.net lab, we aim at understanding how our model organisms function as a whole. Of course, our interests are focused on certain aspects of life of our research objects, and so are our questions. For example, we aim at understanding sponge contraction, in order to learn more about the evolution of contractility and coordination in basal metazoans. The same applies for mechanisms of asexual reproduction. In order to approach such a comprehensive understanding of biological phenomena, it is beneficial to apply an integrative approach which crosses the borders of conventional biological compartments, as pointed out by G.A. Bartholomew (see below). For this reason, our integrative methodology bases on the use of awide variety of techniques from several biological specialities.
„The responses of organisms ignore the categories of scientific specialization. Organisms are functionally indivisible and their activities do not fall neatly into even the broadest of the conventional biological compartments such as physiology, morphology, behavior and genetics. These broad categories, and also the many more restricted areas of specialization into which biologists segregate themselves, do not exist separately in the world of organisms. They are artifacts of convenience and fashion, created by humans and perpetuated by university administrative structures and government bureaucracies, by traditions, and by groups of biologists. It is the intact and functioning organism on which natural selection operates. Organisms are therefore a central element of concern to the biologist who aspires to a broad and integrated understanding of biology.
Bartholomew GA (2005) Integrative Biology, an Organismic Biologist's Point of View. Integrative and Comparative Biology 45: 330-332
- Functional morphology, physiology and genomics of sponge contraction
- Biomechanics of spicule reinforced sponge tissue
- Functional morphology, physiology and genomics of asexual reproduction and subsequent development of sponges
- Comparative morphology and evolution of basal metazoan secretory cells
- Systematics and phylogeny of the genus Tethya (Porifera, Demospongiae, Hadromerida, Tethyidae)