Ctenophore. Photo: Joan J. Soto-Angel, University of Bergen.

Fred Wolf receive Human Frontier Science Program funds

The first brains in the world of animals marked a decisive step in evolution. Living beings could now process information and identify opportunities as well as dangers. But how did the first brains evolve and what form did they take?
MBExC member Fred Wolf from the University of Göttingen and the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization together with Pawel Burkhardt from the Michael Sars Centre at the University of Bergen, Norway, will receive a grant from the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) to get to the bottom of these questions.
Their project “Decoding the gelatinous origins of brain evolution” will be funded with 900000 USD. It is designed to understand the functioning of the very simple nervous system of the sea walnut (Mnemopsis leidyi), a member of the comb jellyfish family (ctenophores). For this purpose, the researchers will apply both theoretical and experimental research approaches. They hope to decipher the neural network of comb jellyfish. These planktic predators can severely disrupt intact marine ecosystems. Compared to other predators, they probably have one of the most unusual brain structures on the planet.
The press release of the University of Göttingen can be found here and the press release of the MPI-DS here