The Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology was created in 1997 using funds from the Research Council of Norway, the Ministry of Education and Research, and the University of Bergen.Sars research includes studies of the basic biological processes in marine organisms using functional and comparative molecular methods. Developmental mechanisms and their evolution are at present the major focus of our research. Sars research involves studies on the tunicate Oikopleura dioica, the zebrafish and salmon, and two cnidarians including the sea anemone Nematostella. Marine species cannot be ignored by molecular biologists because most animal branches are predominantly or exclusively marine. However, adequate marine model systems have to be utilised or newly established, to permit genetic analysis just like in terrestrial laboratory animals.

Recent Submissions

  • The architecture of cell differentiation in choanoflagellates and sponge choanocytes 

    Laundon, Davis; Larson, Ben T; McDonald, Kent; King, Nicole; Burkhardt, Pawel (Public Library of Science, 2019-04-12)
    Although collar cells are conserved across animals and their closest relatives, the choanoflagellates, little is known about their ancestry, their subcellular architecture, or how they differentiate. The choanoflagellate ...
    Journal article
  • The Birth and Death of Toxins with Distinct Functions: A Case Study in the Sea Anemone Nematostella 

    Sachkova, Maria; Singer, Shir A; Macrander, Jason; Reitzel, Adam M.; Peigneur, Steve; Tytgat, Jan; Moran, Yehu (Oxford University Press, 2019-05-27)
    The cnidarian Nematostella vectensis has become an established lab model, providing unique opportunities for venom evolution research. The Nematostella venom system is multimodal: involving both nematocytes and ectodermal ...
    Journal article
  • Automated behavioural analysis reveals the basic behavioural repertoire of the urochordate Ciona intestinalis 

    Rudolf, Jerneja; Dondorp, Daniel; Canon, Louise; Tieo, Sonia; Chatzigeorgiou, Marios (Springer Nature, 2019-02-20)
    Quantitative analysis of animal behaviour in model organisms is becoming an increasingly essential approach for tackling the great challenge of understanding how activity in the brain gives rise to behaviour. Here we used ...
    Journal article
  • A novel measure of non-coding genome conservation identifies genomic regulatory blocks within primates 

    Nash, Alexander J.; Lenhard, Boris (Oxford University Press, 2018-12-07)
    Motivation Clusters of extremely conserved non-coding elements (CNEs) mark genomic regions devoted to cis-regulation of key developmental genes in Metazoa. We have recently shown that their span coincides with that of ...
    Journal article
  • A non-bilaterian perspective on the development and evolution of animal digestive systems 

    Steinmetz, Patrick (Springer Nature, 2019-08-07)
    Digestive systems and extracellular digestion are key animal features, but their emergence during early animal evolution is currently poorly understood. As the last common ancestor of non-bilaterian animal groups (sponges, ...
    Journal article
  • Twenty million years of evolution: The embryogenesis of four Caenorhabditis species are indistinguishable despite extensive genome divergence 

    Memar, Nadin; Schiemann, Sabrina; Hennig, Christian; Findeis, Daniel; Conradt, Barbara; Schnabel, Ralf (Elsevier Inc, 2019-03-15)
    The four Caenorhabditis species C. elegans, C. briggsae, C. remanei and C. brenneri show more divergence at the genomic level than humans compared to mice (Stein et al., 2003; Cutter et al., 2006, 2008). However, the ...
    Journal article
  • Transcription start site mapping using super-low input carrier-CAGE 

    Cvetesic, Nevena; Pahita, Elena; Lenhard, Boris (Journal of Visualized Experiments, 2019-06-26)
    Cap analysis of gene expression (CAGE) is a method used for single-nucleotide resolution detection of RNA polymerase II transcription start sites (TSSs). Accurate detection of TSSs enhances identification and discovery of ...
    Journal article
  • Trans-splicing of mRNAs links gene transcription to translational control regulated by mTOR 

    Danks, Gemma Barbara; Galbiati, Heloisa; Raasholm, Martina; Torres Cleuren, Yamila Nicole; Valen, Eivind; Navratilova, Pavla; Thompson, Eric (BioMed Central, 2019)
    Background: In phylogenetically diverse organisms, the 5′ ends of a subset of mRNAs are trans-spliced with a spliced leader (SL) RNA. The functions of SL trans-splicing, however, remain largely enigmatic. Results: We ...
    Journal article
  • Understanding the genetics of neuropsychiatric disorders: the potential role of genomic regulatory blocks 

    Barešić, Anja; Nash, Alexander Jolyon; Dahoun, Tarik; Howes, Oliver; Lenhard, Boris (Nature, 2019)
    Recent genome-wide association studies have identified numerous loci associated with neuropsychiatric disorders. The majority of these are in non-coding regions, and are commonly assigned to the nearest gene along the ...
    Journal article
  • Molecular patterning during the development of Phoronopsis harmeri reveals similarities to rhynchonelliform brachiopods 

    Andrikou, Carmen; Passamaneck, Yale J; Lowe, Christopher J.; Martindale, Mark Q.; Hejnol, Andreas (BMC, 2019)
    Background: Phoronids, rhynchonelliform and linguliform brachiopods show striking similarities in their embryonic fate maps, in particular in their axis specification and regionalization. However, although brachiopod ...
    Journal article
  • A nemertean excitatory peptide/CCHamide regulates ciliary swimming in the larvae of Lineus longissimus 

    Thiel, Daniel; Bauknecht, Philipp; Jékely, Gáspár; Hejnol, Andreas (BMC, 2019-07-10)
    Background The trochozoan excitatory peptide (EP) and its ortholog, the arthropod CCHamide, are neuropeptides that are only investigated in very few animal species. Previous studies on different trochozoan species focused ...
    Journal article
  • Embryonic expression of priapulid Wnt genes 

    Hogvall, Mattias; Vellutini, Bruno Cossermelli; Martin-Duran, José M.; Hejnol, Andreas; Budd, Graham E.; Janssen, Ralf (Springer, 2019-07)
    Posterior elongation of the developing embryo is a common feature of animal development. One group of genes that is involved in posterior elongation is represented by the Wnt genes, secreted glycoprotein ligands that signal ...
    Journal article
  • Pairwise comparisons across species are problematic when analyzing functional genomic data 

    Dunn, Casey W.; Zapata, Felipe; Munro, Catriona; Siebert, Stefan; Hejnol, Andreas (National Academy of Sciences, 2018-01-04)
    There is considerable interest in comparing functional genomic data across species. One goal of such work is to provide an integrated understanding of genome and phenotype evolution. Most comparative functional genomic ...
    Journal article
  • Increased taxon sampling reveals thousands of hidden orthologs in flatworms 

    Martin Duran, Jose Maria; Ryan, Joseph Francis; Vellutini, Bruno Cossermelli; Pang, Kevin Scott; Hejnol, Andreas (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2017)
    Gains and losses shape the gene complement of animal lineages and are a fundamental aspect of genomic evolution. Acquiring a comprehensive view of the evolution of gene repertoires is limited by the intrinsic limitations ...
    Journal article
  • Cleavage modification did not alter blastomere fates during bryozoan evolution 

    Vellutini, Bruno Cossermelli; Martin Duran, Jose Maria; Hejnol, Andreas (BioMed Central, 2017-04-28)
    Background: Stereotypic cleavage patterns play a crucial role in cell fate determination by precisely positioning early embryonic blastomeres. Although misplaced cell divisions can alter blastomere fates and cause embryonic ...
    Journal article
  • Early evolution of radial glial cells in Bilateria 

    Helm, Conrad; Karl, Anett; Beckers, Patrick; Kaul-Strehlow, Sabrina; Ulbricht, Elke; Kourtesis, Ioannis; Kuhrt, Heidrun; Hausen, Harald; Bartolomaeus, Thomas; Reichenbach, Andreas; Bleidorn, Christoph (The Royal Society Publishing, 2017)
    Bilaterians usually possess a central nervous system, composed of neurons and supportive cells called glial cells. Whereas neuronal cells are highly comparable in all these animals, glial cells apparently differ, and in ...
    Journal article
  • Evolutionary and behavioral analysis of neuropeptides in bilaterians 

    Thiel, Daniel (The University of Bergen, 2017-06-29)
    Neuropeptides are a diverse group of neurosecretory signaling molecules that are utilized by the nervous system of all bilaterian animals. These signaling molecules are involved in most physiological processes and can ...
    Doctoral thesis
  • A safer, urea-based in situ hybridization method improves detection of gene expression in diverse animal species 

    Sinigaglia, Chiara; Thiel, Daniel; Houliston, Evelyn; Leclère, Lucas (2017)
    In situ hybridization is a widely employed technique allowing spatial visualization of gene expression in fixed specimens. It has proven to be essential to our understanding of biological processes, including developmental ...
    Journal article
  • An ancient FMRFamide-related peptide-receptor pair induces defense behavior in a brachiopod larva 

    Thiel, Daniel; Bauknecht, Philipp; Jékely, Gáspár; Hejnol, Andreas (2017)
    Animals show different behaviors that can consist of various spatially or temporally separated sub-reactions. Even less complex organisms, like ciliated larvae that display important behaviors (e.g. metamorphosis, defense, ...
    Journal article
  • Embryonic chirality and the evolution of spiralian left - right asymmetries 

    Martin Duran, Jose Maria; Vellutini, Bruno Cossermelli; Hejnol, Andreas (The Royal Society Publishing, 2016-12)
    The group Spiralia includes species with one of the most significant cases of left–right asymmetries in animals: the coiling of the shell of gastropod molluscs (snails). In this animal group, an early event of embryonic ...
    Journal article

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