Homepage » Courses Offered » Undergraduate Studies » 7th 13B039 Developmental & Molecular Animal Biology


Compulsory/Elective Code Semester Lectures Practicals Credits ECTS
Elective 13B039 7th 4 Hrs/Wk  3 Hrs/Wk 5 6,5

The course deals with fundamental concepts related to Developmental Biology and Embryology through the study of model organisms such as Drosophila, C. elegans, Xenopus, Zebrafish, Chick and the Mouse. The aim of the course is the students to understand the organogenesis resulting from the three main layers: the mesoderm the ectoderm and the endoderm, the mechanisms of regeneration, aging and death, the correlation and comparison of normal growth with spontaneous morphogenic abnormalities. The research methodology (Paraffin Embedding, Tissue sectioning, Staining, Optical microscopy, Observation of Histological Specimens) is studied so that the student will be able to apply, combine and analyze the results of the techniques. 


Students by the end of the lectures and the laboratory exercises are expected to: a) be able to distinguish the origin of the different organs, b) describe the different types of tissues, c) understand the organization of tissues, d) understand the basic mechanisms of the development, from Drosophila to Human, e) interpret the processes taking place during organogenesis, f) understand the basic mechanisms of embryology, regeneration and cell death, g) compare and trace the characteristics of normal growth with spontaneous morphogenic abnormalities, h) be able to choose and apply classical and modern techniques of Developmental and Molecular Animal Biology.

Knowledge: Students are expected to: a) understand the concepts of structure and organization of different organs and tissue types of animals such as epithelial, connective, neural and muscular, b) learn and embed the molecular mechanisms of the development and the basic principles of embryology through the study of model organisms such as Drosophila, C. elegans, Xenopus, Zebrafish, Chick and Mouse, c) learn and describe the mechanisms of regeneration, aging and cell death, d) distinct the physiological structures and organization and be able to identify the morphological abnormalities and lesions, e) identify the processes of organogenesis (endodermal and mesodermal origin), f) learn and apply the necessary research methodology and the classical and modern techniques required to study the developmental biology and histology of a standard animal cell system.

Skills: Students should: a) explain the molecular mechanisms of organogenesis and growth, b) be able to handle scientific instruments with ease and reliability, c) have the ability to apply and adapt the experimental data related to histology and embryology and stem cells, d) interpret and relate the fundamental mechanisms of regeneration, aging and cell death from Drosophila to humans, e) recognize and classify the different types of tissues, f) have the ability to examine and compare biological structures of physiological growth with structures exhibiting spontaneous morphogenic abnormalities.

Abilities: Student are expected to: a) combine techniques and interpret the results of their application to respond to biological questions about the development of animal organisms, b) interpret results, draw conclusions and make new assumptions about the organisms and structure of the tissues of an animal system, c) be able to evaluate the physiological or non-developmental features and characteristics of animal organisms, d) be able to compare and evaluate data on the essential mechanisms of growth and organogenesis, e) be able to compare and relate data and make new assumptions about animal development.


INTRODUCTION IN DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY (1 Hour): Where the subject came from, Impact of developmental biology, Future impact, Gametogenesis, Early development, Morphogenetic processes, Growth and death

DEVELOPMENTAL GENETICS (2 Hours): Developmental mutants, Sex chromosomes, Maternal and zygotic genes, Genetic pathways, Genetic mosaics, Screening for mutants, Cloning of genes, Gain- and loss-of-function experiments, Gene duplication, Limitations of developmental genetics

EXPERIMENTAL EMBRYOLOGY (3 Hours): Normal development, Developmental commitment, Criteria for proof

TECHNIQUES FOR THE STUDY OF THE DEVELOPMENT (3 Hours): Microscopy, Study of gene expression by molecular biology methods, Study of gene expression by in situ methods, Microinjection, Cell-labeling methods

MODEL ORGANISMS (2 Hours): The big six model organisms, Access and micromanipulation, Genetics and genome maps, Relevance and tempo, Other organisms

XENOPUS (3 Hours): Oogenesis, maturation, and fertilization, Normal development, Experimental methods, Processes of regional specification, Inductive interactions

ZEBRA FISH (3 Hours): Normal development, Genetics, Embryological and molecular techniques, Regional specification, Other uses for the zebrafish

DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHICK EMBRYO (3 Hours): A model system in the developmental and molecular biology of the animals. Experimentation in the embryo. Early and late development. Cleavage and gastrulation. Cell movements. Primitive streak. Extraembryonic membranes in the amniotes. Fate map. Regional specification of the early embryo. Organizers. Anteroposterior polarity and fragmentation of the blastoderm. , Early inductive interactions. Left–right asymmetry. 

MOUSE (4 Hours): Mammalian fertilization, Normal development, Regional specification, Human early development, Mouse developmental genetics, Other topics in mouse development

DROSOPHILA (4 Hours): Insects, Normal development, Drosophila developmental genetics, The developmental program

CAENORHABDITIS ELEGANS (3 Hours): Adult anatomy, Life cycle. Embryonic development. Regional specification in the embryo. Asymmetrical cleavages. Determinants. Inductive interactions in C. elegans.  Analysis of postembryonic development. The vulva. The germ line. Programmed cell death.

ORGANIZATION OF TISSUES AND STEM CELLS (3 Hours): Types of tissue, Tissue renewal, Stem cells 

DEVELOPMENT OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM (4 Hours): Overall structure and cell types, Anteroposterior patterning of the neural plate, Dorsoventral patterning of the neural tube, Neurogenesis and gliogenesis, The neural crest, Development of neuronal connectivity

DEVELOPMENT OF ORGANS OF MESODERMAL ORIGIN (4 Hours): Somitogenesis and myogenesis, The kidney, Germ cell and gonadal development, Limb development, Blood and blood vessels, The heart

DEVELOPMENT OF ORGANS OF ENDODERMAL ORIGIN (2 Hours): Splachnnic and definite endoderm. Normal development. Formation of the gut tube in amniotes. Organization and local differentiation of the gut tube. Fate map of the endoderm. Determination of the endoderm. Regional specification. Endoderm–mesoderm interactions. Experimental analysis of endoderm development. The liver. The pancreas. Induction of pancreatic buds. Pancreatic transcription factors. Pancreatic cell lineage.

IMAGINAL DISCS IN DROSOPHILA (2 Hours): Metamorphosis, Disc development

GROWTH, AGING AND CANCER (2 Hours): Growth: control of size and proportion, Aging, Cancer

REGENERATION OF MISSING PARTS (2 Hours): Distribution of regenerative capacity among animal species. Epimorphosis. Morphallaxis (transdifferentiation/metaplasia). Compensatory regeneration.  Regeneration in the planarians.  Vertebrate limb regeneration.  General properties and the process of regeneration. Low of peripheral transformation. The source of cells for regeneration. De-differentiation. ,  The “neurotrophic” factor. Regeneration of regional pattern. Retinoic acid effects. New model systems and genetic tools.


1. Classical histological techniques - 2. Embryonic development of sea urchin - 3. Embryonic development of frog - 4. Microscopic anatomy (study of histological slides): Epithelium I - 5. Microscopic anatomy (study of histological slides): Epithelium II - 6. Microscopic anatomy (study of histological slides): Neural tissue - 7. Microscopic anatomy (study of histological slides): Eye and Tooth - 8. Microscopic anatomy (study of histological slides): Genital system

  Lectures: Dimitrios Stravopodis, Associate Professor of Cellular & Developmental Biology (Coordinator) – Ιoannis Trougakos, Professor of Animal Cell Biology & Electron Microscopy – Vasiliki Iconomidou, Associate Professor of Biophysics – Molecular Biophysics – Marianna Antonelou, Assistant Professor of Animal Cell Biology, Charalampos Alexopoulos, Assistant Professor of Animal Cell Biology
  Practicals: Ιoannis Trougakos, Professor of Animal Cell Biology & Electron Microscopy - Dimitrios Stravopodis, Associate Professor of Cell Biology & Development - Marianna Antonelou, Assistant Professor of Animal Cell Biology – Charalampos Alexopoulos, Assistant Professor of Animal Cell Biology - Dr. Ourania Konstandi (Laboratory Teaching Staff) - Dr. Athanasios Velentzas (Laboratory Teaching Staff) - Dr. Nikolaos Papandreou (Laboratory Teaching Staff) - Dr. Zoi Litou (Laboratory Teaching Staff)

There are no prerequisites for the student to choose and attend the course.

The course is offered to Erasmus students: Teaching in Greek language - Exams in English language.

The evaluation process is carried out in Greek language (there is the possibility in English for Erasmus students), with a final examination of the whole course that includes: A. Theory: (80% of the total grade of the course): a) Advanced Exam Questions and b) Multiple Choice Questions - B. Laboratory exercises: (20% of the total grade of the course): a) Delivering sketches of the histological preparations studied as well as b) Written examination with an Extended Response Question and a Design. The total score is the sum of the two above-mentioned individual evaluations.

  If you require more information, please contact the Course Coordinator, Assosiate Prof. Dimitrios J. Stravopodis at: Tel: +30 210 727 4742 – Email: dstravop[at]biol.uoa[dot]gr