The participating research groups use a wide spectrum of classical model organisms, emerging model organisms, and non-model organisms to study the molecular basis of human diseases, regeneration, evolutionary developmental biology of embryogenesis, brain diversification and sex determination, and use applied developmental biology for insect pest control.

The mechanistic understanding of biological processes fuels innovation in basic and applied research. Until recently, gene function could only be studied in a handful of genetic model organisms, which revealed fundamental principles of developmental biology and enabled an increasing understanding of human diseases. However, many biological processes are not represented in classical genetic organisms, which are also not representing a wide variety of diverse clades and whose evolutionary divergence hampers transferability of findings. Recent technical breakthroughs allow us now to study gene function also in non-model organisms: Next generation sequencing provide comprehensive gene inventories and their stage and tissue-specific activities and RNA interference as well as genome editing provide functional approaches to study the role of genes in particular biological processes. This will allow us to compare biological processes between species and identify what genetic or epigenetic differences lead to phenotypic variations that initiate speciation and thus drives evolution.