Systems Biology


Comparative Analysis of Developmental Systems

This group is part of the EMBL/CRG Research Unit in Systems Biology

Johannes Jaeger
Hilde Janssens
Damjan Cicin-Sain
Anton Crombach, Eva Jiménez-Guri, Bàrbara Negre, Karl Wotton
Besray Ünal (with Luis Serrano), Juan José Fraire-Zamora (with Jerôme Solon)
Astrid Hörmann, Berta Verd
Helena Roca
Anna Alcaine Colet, Núria Bosch, Brenda Gavilán


An adult Megaselia fly in front of embryo images showing our gene expression data.


The diversity of biological form depends on the processes of development and evolution. Our group tries to understand the principles that govern these processes using an interdisciplinary approach based on experimental work and quantitative mathematical modelling of gene regulatory networks. As our experimental system, we study and compare pattern formation during early development of three dipteran insects: the fruit fly (Drosophila melangoaster), a scuttle fly (Megaselia abdita), and a moth midge (Clogmia albipuncata). In 2014, we have published detailed descriptions of embryogenesis in two of these species, and an analysis of gene network models for Clogmia. An equivalent set of models for Megaselia is being reviewed by high-level journals. In parallel, we have developed mathematical methodology required for the detailed comparison of models between species, and have explored the implications of this work for evolutionary theory.

Research Projects

  • A quantitative, comparative study of gap gene regulation in dipterans
    Karl Wotton, Eva Jiménez-Guri, Anton Crombach, Brenda Gavilán, Núria Bosch, Damjan Cicin-Sain
  • Modeling the evolutionary dynamics of the gap gene network
    Anton Crombach
  • Phase space analysis of evolving regulatory networks
    Berta Verd, Anton Cromlech
  • Development of new optimization and model analysis tools (BioPreDyn)
    Anton Crombach, Damjan Cicin-Sain
  • A systems-level analysis of giant (gt) regulation in Drosophila melanogaster
    Astrid Hörmann
  • A quantitative study of gap gene mutants in Drosophila melanogaster
    Hilde Janssens
  • Analysis of dorso-ventral patterning in the moth midge Clogmia albipunctata
    Eva Jiménez-Guri, Anna Alcaine Colet
  • Inferring the thoracic bristle patterning network of Drosophila melanogaster
    Bárbara Negre, Helena Roca
  • Comparative transcriptomics and genomics of dipteran species
    Eva Jiménez-Guri, Karl Wotton, Bárbara Negre (with CRG Genomics/Bioinformatics Core Facilities)

Selected Publications

Crombach A, García-Solache M and Jaeger J.
“Evolution of early development in dipterans: reverse-engineering the gap gene network in the moth midge Clogmia albipunctata (Psychodidae).”
BioSystems, 123:75–85 (2014).

Jaeger J and Monk N.
“Bioattractors: dynamical systems theory and the evolution of regulatory processes.”
J Physiol, 592:2267–81 (2014).

Verd B, Crombach A and Jaeger J.
“Classification of transient behaviours in a time-dependent toggle switch model.”
BMC Syst Biol, 8:43 (2014).

Jiménez-Guri E, Wotton KR, Gavilán B and Jaeger J.
“A staging scheme for the development of the moth midge Clogmia albipunctata.”
PLoS ONE, 9:e84422 (2014).

Wotton KR, Jiménez-Guri E, García Matheu B & Jaeger J.
“A staging scheme for the development of the scuttle fly Megaselia abdita.”
PLoS ONE, 9:e84421 (2014).