Neurobiology of Marine Zooplankton

Gáspár Jékely

gaspar jekely
  • PhD at the Institute of Enzymology, Budapest, 1995-99
  • Postdoctoral training at the EMBL, Heidelberg, 2000-07
  • Max Planck research group leader at the MPI since 2007

Research Interest

Precise neuronal synaptic connectivity and its modulation by chemical signaling are ultimately responsible for the circuit dynamics controlling effector activity during behavior. We currently have little information on the complete synaptic connectivity (connectome) of entire neuronal circuits and how these are modulated. The establishment of new, small, relatively simple model organisms could greatly benefit neuroscience by allowing whole-body connectomics and by expanding the range of nervous system phenomena that can be studied.

We work on the larval stages of the marine annelid Platynereis dumerilii that has recently emerged as a powerful experimental system for the study of neural circuits and neuromodulation in a whole-body context. We use connectomics, neurogenetics, activity imaging, and behavioral experiments to understand how circuits influence behavior and physiology in the planktonic larvae of Platynereis. By studying different larval stages, we can also gain insights into how circuit maturation influences larval behavior during development.

  • Jekely Booklet picture1
    click to enlarge

Scanning electron micrograph of a Platynereis larva. The larvae swim with the equatorial belt of cilia.

  • jekely figure2 2015
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Neuronal connectome of the visual circuitry of a Platynereis larva reconstructed using serial section electron microscopy.

Available PhD Projects

No projects offered in the 2017 selection.

Selected Reading

1) Gühmann M, Jia H, Randel R, Verasztó C, Bezares-Calderón LA, Michiels NK, Yokoyama S, Jékely G. Spectral tuning of phototaxis by a Go-opsin in the rhabdomeric eyes of Platynereis. Current Biology, 2015;25(17):2265-2271.

2) Bauknecht, P. Jékely, G. Large-scale combinatorial deorphanization of Platynereis neuropeptide GPCRs. Cell Reports, 2015;12(4):684-93.

3) Randel N, Shahidi R, Verasztó C, Bezares-Calderón LA, Schmidt S, Jékely G. Inter-individual stereotypy of the Platynereis larval visual connectome. eLife. 2015;4. doi: 10.7554/eLife.08069.

4) Randel N, Asadulina A, Bezares-Calderón LA, Verasztó C, Williams EA, Conzelmann M, Shahidi R, Jékely G. Neuronal connectome of a sensory-motor circuit for visual navigation, eLife 2014;10.7554/eLife.02730