Dr Gerhard Schlosser

Lecturer in School of Natural Sciences
Principal Investigator

Research interests

  • Development and evolution of cranial sense organs

Research overview

We are interested in the development and evolution of the vertebrate nervous system and sense organs. One major focus of our research are cranial placodes, the precursors of most ganglia and sense organs in the vertebrate head.

We mainly use the clawed toad Xenopus laevis as a model organism to study their development. In addition, we try to elucidate evolutionary origins and modifications of cranial sense organs by comparison with other chordates.

In previous studies we cloned the Xenopus Eya1 gene and pro­vided the first de­tailed descrip­tion and fatemap of pla­c­ode development in Xenopus.. We also did the first comprehensive functional anal­y­ses of upstream regulators of Eya1 and Six1 in Xenopus placodes and analysed the role of Eya1 and Six1 in regulating neuro­gene­sis in placodes.

In recent studies, we used RNA-Seq of the placodal transcriptome after injection of hormone-inducible constructs of Eya1 and Six1 to identify putative Eya1 and Six1 target genes. We currently study the function of these target genes and of Eya1 protein interaction partners in placode development.

We also pursue broader questions of sensory development and evolution as well as more general theoretical problems concerning the evolution of developmental processes.

Selected publications

  • Riddiford, N., Schlosser G.; Six1 and Eya1 both promote and arrest neuronal differentiation by activating multiple Notch pathway genes. Dev. Biol. 431, 152-167 (2017).
  • Riddiford, N., Schlosser G.; Dissecting the pre-placodal transcriptome to reveal direct targets of Six1and Eya1 in cranial placodes. eLife 2016;5:e17666, 1-33 (2016).
  • Pieper, M., Ahrens, K., Rink, E, Peter, A., and Schlosser, G.; Differential distribution of competence for panplacodal and neural crest induction to non-neural and neural ectoderm. Development 139, 1175-1187 (2012).