EZO-30306 Developmental Biology of Animals


Studiepunten 6.00

One day excursion4
Practical extensively supervised8
Practical intensively supervised52
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. S Kranenbarg
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. S Schulte-Merker
dr. ir. S Kranenbarg
Examiner(s)dr. ir. S Kranenbarg

Language of instruction:

Dutch or English

Assumed knowledge on:

Human and Animal Biology I and II


The 24 lectures (1h each) are focussed on mechanisms of development of a wide variety of protostome and deuterostome species. Most attention however is given to the model organisms, Drosophila, zebrafish, Xenopus, chicken and mouse. Basal concepts like mosaic and regulative development are discussed and species compared in this respect. Molecular control of regulation of gene expression during development is a central field of interest. Specification of embryonic axes, pattern formation, morphogenetic processes, organogenesis and celdifferentiation are important issues. These processes undoubtedly have a (phylo-) genetic basis, but embryos develop in an environment with characteristic physical laws and parameter values. Techniques available to analyse the physical environment and its influence on embryonic development will be discussed. This analysis is important to gain insight in functional aspects next to genetic aspects of development. The role of phylogenetic and physical constraints in the developmental process will be discussed as well as the role of developmental biology in the study of evolution. The practicals (15 half days) focus on the morphogenesis of vertebrates, studied by microscopy, but some attention is also given to invertebrate species. Furthermore, an introduction into some important embryological and (developmental) molecular biological techniques is given. Literature on a number of important questions or techniques will have to be studied. The papers are discussed during 3 special meetings (1h each).

Learning outcomes:

After the course, students should be able to:
- formulate the central questions in the field and understand their impact;
- know how the morphogenesis of the bodyplan of a number of organisms takes place;
- know what (cellular, molecular, physical) mechanisms underlie these morphogenetic processes;
- quantitatively discuss why certain developmental processes take place (why for example will a circulatory system develop at a certain stage?);
- understand terms like morphogenetic determinants, gradients of morphogens, transcriptional regulation of maternal and zygotic genes, embryonic induction, pattern formation, the role of cytoskeleton and cell surface molecules in cell movement and morphogenesis and be able to give examples in relation to developmental processes;
- understand that a number of rather general mechanisms underlie embryonic development of a wide variety of bodyplans;
- formulate more specific questions and hypotheses on developmental processes;
- design experiments to test these hypotheses;
- carry out some basic developmental biological techniques.


- follow 24 lectures and study the material explained;
- read about 5 papers and discuss the papers in 3 plenary meetings;
- study the material presented at the practicals and learn to integrate the obtained knowledge with that acquired from studying contents of lectures and papers;
- carry out some basic techniques/experiments.


- participation during plenary meetings: 10%;
- test of knowledge of morphogenesis using slides: 25%;
- written examination with open questions: 50%;
- gastrulation assignment (15%).


- S.F. Gilbert "Developmental Biology". Sinauer 2006 (8th edition).
- Study guide including a laboratory manual.

Keuze voor: MBIBiologyMScH: Molecular Development and Gene Regulation6WD
MASAnimal SciencesMScF: Applied Zoology6WD