title graphic

DEVO@CU is an attempt to build a coherent introduction to the key ideas, observations, and model systems used in the study of developmental biology. 

DEVO is part of a larger curricular redesign effort that includes biofundamentals (including genetics), CLUE: Chemistry, life, the universe & everything & Organic CLUE (O!CLUE) and CLUE+ (including biochemstry) (testimonial).   

Video on constructing arguments  PLoS Blog Posts: post-1, 2, 3, & 4



Syllabus / Date   Topics
to be completed before class


WEEK 1: Tuesday
15 January


read post-1
class 1 slides


Introduction to the course:
– course rules, expectations & such
how to read a paper (for this class)
– introduction to beSocratic (hopefully)

What is the course about? 

nothing required befor the first day!


optional but interestingTen Craziest Things Cells Do - Wallace Marshall


17 January

Decision making
in bacteria

class 2 slides


Primary topic: Developmental and
decision processes in bacteria. 



read before class: Alberts 1998. The cell as a collection of protein machines

read before class: Ng & Bassler et al 2009+ Bacterial Quorum-Sensing Network Architectures

optional but interesting: Balazsi et al 2011.+ Cellular Decision Mating and Biological Noise: from Microbes to Mammals


WEEK 2: Tuesday,
22 January


class 3 slides


Complete: developmental decision in bacteria

Primary Topic: Origins of aggregative (temporary) multicellularity


read before class:  Read & Latty 2016. Collective behaviour and swarm intelligence in slime moulds

optional but interesting: Sebé-Pedrós et al., 2013. Regulated aggregative multicellularity in a close unicellular relative of metazoa


24 January


class 4 slides


Primary Topic: Evolutionary origins of (clonal) multicellularity


 read before class: Boraas et al., 1998. Phagotrophy by a flagellate selects for colonial prey: a possible origin for multicellularity

read before class: Brunet & King 2017. The origin of animal multicellularity and cell differentiation.

optional : Knoll. 2011. The multiple origins of complex multicellularity.


WEEK 3: Tuesday,
29 January

Establishing Asymmetries

class 5 slides


Primary Topic: Establishing Asymmetries


read before class:  Neumuller & Knoblich. 2009. Dividing cellular asymmetry: asymmetric cell division and its implications for stem cells and cancer

optional but interesting: Chen et al 2016. The in(side) and outs(ide) of asymmetric stem cell division.


31 January


class 6 slides


Primary Topic: Embryonic axes introduced - Left/Right


read before class: Lebreton et al., 2018 Molecular to organismal chirality is induced by the conserved myosin 1D.

optional but interesting:.Albrecht-Buehler 1977. Daughter 3T3 cells: Are they mirror images of each other?

optional but interesting: Ray et al., 2018. Intrinsic cellular chirality regulates left-right symmetry breaking during cardiac looping.


WEEK 4: Tuesday,
5 February

Mophogens &

class 7 slides


Primary Topic: Morphogens and gradients: signaling systems.


read before class: Briscoe & Small. 2015. Morphogen rules: design principles of gradient-mediated patterning.

optional but interesting: Muller et al 2013. Morphogen transport


Thursday, 7 February

Embryonic Axes
(A-P & D-V)

class 8 slides


Primary Topic
: Establishing embryonic axes


read before class: Genikhovish & Technau. 2017 On the evolution of bilaterality.


WEEK 5: Tuesday,
12 February

class 9 slides

  REVIEW - CATCH UP - Questions
review for exam


14 February


  MIDTERM #1  First midterm exam  
 Answer key


WEEK 6: Tuesday
19 February

Model systems

→ class 10 slides


Primary Topic: Considerations when selecting a model system - strengths & limitations


Read before class: P. Murphy - Model Organisms

read before class:  Perlman 2016. Mouse models of human disease: an evolutionary perspective.

interesting but optional : McGlinn 2013. Mice Fall Short as Test Subjects for Some of Humans’ Deadly Ills 

interesting but optionalFalse analogies & logical fallacies in animal models


21 February

Learning from the frog

→ class 11 slides


Primary Topic: What can we learn from the clawed frog Xenopus laevis


read before class:  Houston, 2010. Cortical rotation and messenger RNA localization in Xenopus axis formation.

read before class: Briggs et al. 2018. The dynamics of gene expression in vertebrate embryogenesis at single-cell resolution

optional but interesting: Harland lectures on Xenopus: part 1, part 2, part 3


WEEK 7: Tuesday,
26 February

Mutational studies
of development

→ class 12 slides

  Primary Topic: Mutational studies of developmental processes  
read on NB before class: Wieschaus & Nusslein-Volhard 2016 The Heidelberg screen for pattern mutants of Drosophila: a personal account.


28 February

Learning from the fly

→ class 12 slides

  Primary Topic: What can we learn from the fruit (vinegar) fly Drosophila  

read on NB before class Animals in Research: Drosophila (the fruit fly).

read on NB before class


WEEK 8: Tuesday,
5 March

Learning from the worm

→ class 13 slides

  Primary Topic: What can we learn from the nematode C. elegans  

read on NB before classAnimals in Research: C. elegans (roundworm)

read on NB before class:  A Transparent Window into Biology: A Primer on Caenorhabditis elegans

optional but interesting:  The natural history of Caenorhabditis elegans


7 March

Neural crest

→ class 14 slides

  Primary Topic: Invertebrate/vertebrate similarities and differences  

read on NB before class

interesting: mouse embryo imaging

optional but interestingZebrafish video


WEEK 9: Tuesday,
12 March


→ class 15 slides


Primary Topic: Patterning the vertebrate skull and the neural crest

Lee Niswander


 read on NB before class:



14 March

Neural crest

→ class 16 slides


Primary Topic: Characteristic aspects of mammalian development  

Lee Niswander

  read on NB before class


WEEK 10: Tuesday,
19 March

Exam Review

  CATCH UP + Exam Review   review


21 March


  MIDTERM #2 Second midterm exam      

Spring Break        


WEEK 11: Tuesday,
2 April

CNS patterning + neuronal pathfinding

→ class 17 slides


Primary Topic: Anterior-posterior and doral ventral patterning of the CNS and neuronal pathfinding

Lee Niswander

  read on NB before class


4 April

Stem cells

→ class 18 slides


Primary Topic: Limb formation

Lee Niswander

  read on NB before class


WEEK 12: Tuesday,
9 April

Stem cells

→ class 19 slides

  Primary Topic: Understanding stem cells part embryonic and hematopoetic   read on NB before class


11 April

ESC, iPSCs + organoids

→ class 20 slides


Primary Topic: Understanding stem cells: in the rest of the body.

  read on NB before class


WEEK 13: Tuesday,
16 April


→ class 21 slides

  Primary Topic: Embryonic stem cells : technical and moral questions Reprogramming somatic cells   read on NB before class


18 April

epigenetic mechanisms

→ class 22 slides


Primary Topic: building tissues : iPSCs and organoids / Stem cells based therapies (an introduction)

  read on NB before class


WEEK 14: Tuesday,
23 April

environmental effects on development

→ class 23 slides

  Primary Topic: Epigenetic mechanisms and development (fetal - maternal - paternal conflicts)   read on NB before class


25 April

cancer development

→ class 24 slides

  Primary Topic: Developmental of cancer   read on NB before class


WEEK 15: Tuesday,
30 April

open at
the mome

→ class 25 slides

  Primary Topic: Developmental of cancer   read on NB before class


2 May


  REVIEW for third midterm and comprehensive exam    


7 May


Troll evolution animation

molecular buff

The original version of DEVO@CU by M.W. Klymkowsky/virtuallaboratory/beSocratic, llc.| part of the the biofundamentals cooperative
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
.  2019