The overall scientific aim of NEPTUNE is to solve an array of important questions in the evolution,
development, neurobiology and ecology of marine animal species. We shall achieve this by
adapting the powerful methods of genetic analysis and imaging currently restricted to lab model
organisms for use in a diverse array of marine invertebrates.
Our initial training network will provide a new generation of students with the range of multidisciplinary
skills needed to take these disciplines forward into the post-genomic era It is central to
our vision that such training must combine the strengths of modern technologies with a real
understanding of more traditional approaches, and, with this aim in mind, our network combines
laboratories working in disciplines as diverse as developmental biology, ensory physiology,
palaeontology and computational genomics.
Our network will provide training in a broad range of new enabling technologies available in
(and pioneered by) the participating laboratories. We will give instruction in new molecular genetic
techniques such as gene knockout by zinc finger nucleases and morpholino- and siRNA mediated
gene knockdown; various transgenesis techniques, wholemount hybridization protocols in a
multitude of organisms, and the newly developed Profiling by Image Registration (PrImR) protocol
for the molecular characterization of cell types; novel approaches for single cell transcriptomics;
behavioural experiments on marine larvae in specifically designed experimental setups and
conditions; 3 and 4D microscopy and advanced imaging techniques; and finally, we will teach the
current state-of-the-art in high-throughput transcriptome and genome sequencing and associated
bioinformatics (assembly algorithms and molecular phylogeny).