MOB-20803 Mechanisms of Development


Credits 3.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. JE Wellink
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. ir. BJG Scheres
dr. ir. S Kranenbarg
Examiner(s)prof. dr. ir. BJG Scheres

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

CBI-10306 Cell Biology; EZO-10306 Human and Animal Biology I; GEN-11806 Fundamentals of Genetics and Molecular Biology; CLB-10803 Reproduction of Plants; PPH-10806 Structure and Function of Plants.

Continuation courses:

EZO-22306 Concepts and Approaches in Developmental Biology.


This course deals with the processes that coordinate the development of a single cell into a complex multi-cellular organism. In general all cells of an organism originate from a single cell and they share the same set of genes. However, they show differential gene expression and therefore cells can have different functions within an organism. The emphasis in this course is on the molecular mechanisms by which differentiation is induced at the right place and time during development (=pattern formation) and on stem cells. Stem cells have the ability to develop into (sever)all cell types (pluripotency). During the course the similarities and differences of plant and animal stem cells are explained. Mechanisms that control pattern formation in plants as well as in animals are for example:
- the formation of gradients of morphogens that are subsequently translated into distinct regions (tissues) with sharp borders;
- cell communication leading to the induction of a new cell type at the interface;
- noise that by lateral inhibition is translated into a pattern.
The underlying molecular mechanism of such developmental concepts will be explained during the course. For example: how does a gradient of a morphogen turn on key regulators in distinctive regions which subsequently affect the expression of target genes and how can small random differences between cells lead to a typical pattern formation by cell-cell communication.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand molecular mechanisms that control pattern formation and maintenance of pluripotency in stem cells
- explain the underlying principles of the regulation of development;
- indicate the similarities and differences between the developmental processes in plants and animals.


Lectures, tutorials, computer modules.


The exam consists out of open and multiple choice questions.

Compulsory for: BBIBiologyBSc3MO