The major lineages of Reptiles diverged 200-280 million years ago and include more than 10,000 species (twice as many as mammals), which display a remarkable range of phenotypes, life histories, sex-determining systems, reproductive modes, and physiologies. Recently, reptiles became important new models for comparative genomics, ecology, and evolutionary developmental biology. Our main focus pertains to the genetic and developmental determinants of coloration in squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes). We produce and integrate data from comparative genomics, transcriptomics (bulk and single-cell), genetic mapping, transgenesis and molecular developmental biology to identify the key players in the establishment of the vast diversity of skin colour and colour pattern phenotypes.
In parallel, we investigate the development of mammalian skin appendages, especially the convergent evolution and development of spines in hedgehogs and tenrecs.