Join us in Prato, Italy from the 22nd-24th October, 2024 for the International Workshop on Chondrichthyan Development and Genomics 2024

About the conference

Much of what is known about vertebrate development draws from studies of select osteichthyan (ray-finned and lobe-finned fish) model systems. Chondrichthyans (sharks, rays, skates, and holocephalans) form the sister group to Osteichthyans, and thus occupy a key phylogenetic position for generating insight into the molecular processes underpinning the evolution of different gnathostome features, such as jaws and paired fins to name a few. Thus, the study of living chondrichthyan species can both unlock evolutionary history and provide important clues towards interpreting the fossil record. Despite this, chondrichthyan species have been challenging systems to study and reinsert into modern debates surrounding evolutionary developmental and genomic approaches. This is because their embryology remains difficult to access in most species, captive laboratory models have been largely lacking, and genomic resources have been few and far between relative to osteichthyans.

In recent years, a number of investigators around the world have begun to tackle these issues head on, and a growing literature exists using chondrichthyan models to answer fundamental evolutionary questions. Laboratories utilizing modern molecular techniques of developmental biology and functional genomics have examined the embryology and organ development in representative holocephalans, sharks and skates in an effort to shed some light on the origins of different vertebrate features, as well the emergence of unique, lineage-specific traits within the chondrichthyan clade. The key to future investigations of chondrichthyans as comparative models is to develop more sophisticated manipulative embryological techniques to enable visualization of developmental mechanisms in vivo, build genomic resources, and establish more adaptable systems for maintaining and growing

Chondrichthyans in captivity.

This small workshop will bring together researchers who have been at the forefront of developing Chondrichthyans models in order to advance the field and cement the progress that has been obtained.

This specific aims of the workshop are.

  1. Exchange knowledge of embryological and developmental approaches that can be deployed in these systems.
  2. Understand the genomic resources and “-omic” approaches that work best for these species.
  3. Develop a better understanding of husbandry approaches and the strength and weaknesses of each emerging system to maximise success of developing key model systems in this part of the phylogeny.