Gaspar Jekely

Living Systems Institute, Exeter University

Neural Circuits Underlying the Whole-body Coordination of Behaviour in Platynereis Larvae

12:00 pm, Friday 20 October 2017

Location: Oxford Martin School


Our goal is to understand how neuronal circuits coordinate behaviours extending to whole organ systems or to the entire body. Achieving this at cellular resolution in an entire nervous system is possible by studying small animals amenable to genetic and other manipulations. We are actively developing the marine annelid Platynereis dumerilii as a new system for circuit neuroscience. We use whole-body connectomics, neuronal activity imaging, and behavioural analysis to understand the circuit bases of behaviour in fully mapped, stereotypical circuits. Genome editing and transgenic access to single neurons allow us to link molecular function to network activity and behaviour. I will present recent results on the integration of phototactic and UV-avoidance responses and on a hydrodynamic startle behaviour.


Gáspár Jékely studied Biology and obtained his PhD in 1999 at the Eötvös Loránd Universities in Budapest. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the EMBL, Heidelberg in the laboratories of Pernille Rorth and Detlev Arendt. Between 2007-2017 he was a group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany. In 2017 he became Professor of Neuroscience in the Living Systems Institute at the University of Exeter. His research interests include the structure, function and evolution of neural circuits in marine ciliated larvae and the origin and early evolution of nervous systems.