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McDougall Lab

Research Interests

Ascidian, invariant cleavage pattern, Phallusia mammillata, molecular toxicity, brain formation

Research Area

The central theme of our team is to understand how biomolecular mechanisms lead to the emergence of the embryonic morphology that is at the origin of the shape of the organism. We mainly use ascidian embryos because they have a small number of cells (blastula containing 64 cells) and display an invariant cleavage pattern, which makes them favorable to study how cell division is involved in the morphogenesis of the cell. In particular, over the last 20 years, we have developed the European sea ​​squirt Phallusia mammillata for life-based cell imaging based on a GFP approach, because Phallusia eggs are transparent and embryos express GFP-like constructs at the same time. Through Phallusia, we examine in greater detail the cellular mechanisms that control the size, position, and number of cells during the early development of sea squirts.We are also studying the adaptations that the cell cycle has made to accomplish maternal meiosis. Since 2013, we have been developing the ascidian model as a model of molecular toxicity to, among other things, understand the impact of pollutants on ascidian larvae brain formation.

Current Members

McDougall, Alex (Principal Investigator/Director)



Institution: CNRS/UPMC


Web Page:

Personal Phone: +33 (0) 4 93 76 37 92

General/Lab Fax: +33 (0) 4 93 76 37 70