Urs C. Schmidt-Ott, PhD

The Schmidt-Ott lab uses experimental and genomic approaches to study the evolution of embryogenesis in flies, including midges and mosquitoes (Diptera).



We seek to understand how and why, in embryos, morphogenesis, pattern formation, axis specification, gene regulation, and gene function change over time. For example, we discovered that the embryos of different fly species use structurally unrelated genes to establish embryo polarity and seek to understand why these essential developmental genes are frequently replaced in evolution and how they acquire this function. In another project, we discovered that the dynamics of a morphogen gradient required for tissue differentiation differs between species. We seek to understand how morphgogen gradient dynamics evolve and alter embryogenesis, including tissue specification and morphogenesis.



In general, we welcome students and scholars who are interested in understanding how plasticity and robustness of embryogenesis shape the genetic basis of embryos over time.

Max-Planck-Institute f. Biophys. Chemistry
Göttingen (Germany)
Postdoc - Molecular Developmental Biology
1997

University of Mainz
Mainz (Germany)
PhD - Genetics
1994

University of Freiburg
Freiburg i. Br. (Germany)
Diplom - Biology
1990

Embryo polarity in moth flies and mosquitoes relies on distinct old genes with localized transcript isoforms.
Yoon Y, Klomp J, Martin-Martin I, Criscione F, Calvo E, Ribeiro J, Schmidt-Ott U. Embryo polarity in moth flies and mosquitoes relies on distinct old genes with localized transcript isoforms. Elife. 2019 10 08; 8.
PMID: 31591963

Ancient mechanisms for the evolution of the bicoid homeodomain's function in fly development.
Liu Q, Onal P, Datta RR, Rogers JM, Schmidt-Ott U, Bulyk ML, Small S, Thornton JW. Ancient mechanisms for the evolution of the bicoid homeodomain's function in fly development. Elife. 2018 10 09; 7.
PMID: 30298815

Chironomus riparius (Diptera) genome sequencing reveals the impact of minisatellite transposable elements on population divergence.
Oppold AM, Schmidt H, Rose M, Hellmann SL, Dolze F, Ripp F, Weich B, Schmidt-Ott U, Schmidt E, Kofler R, Hankeln T, Pfenninger M. Chironomus riparius (Diptera) genome sequencing reveals the impact of minisatellite transposable elements on population divergence. Mol Ecol. 2017 Jun; 26(12):3256-3275.
PMID: 28316106

Functional evolution of a morphogenetic gradient.
Kwan CW, Gavin-Smyth J, Ferguson EL, Schmidt-Ott U. Functional evolution of a morphogenetic gradient. Elife. 2016 12 22; 5.
PMID: 28005004

Emerging developmental genetic model systems in holometabolous insects.
Schmidt-Ott U, Lynch JA. Emerging developmental genetic model systems in holometabolous insects. Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2016 08; 39:116-128.
PMID: 27399647

Morphogenetic functions of extraembryonic membranes in insects.
Schmidt-Ott U, Kwan CW. Morphogenetic functions of extraembryonic membranes in insects. Curr Opin Insect Sci. 2016 02; 13:86-92.
PMID: 27436557

Embryo development. A cysteine-clamp gene drives embryo polarity in the midge Chironomus.
Klomp J, Athy D, Kwan CW, Bloch NI, Sandmann T, Lemke S, Schmidt-Ott U. Embryo development. A cysteine-clamp gene drives embryo polarity in the midge Chironomus. Science. 2015 May 29; 348(6238):1040-2.
PMID: 25953821

Quantitative system drift compensates for altered maternal inputs to the gap gene network of the scuttle fly Megaselia abdita.
Wotton KR, Jiménez-Guri E, Crombach A, Janssens H, Alcaine-Colet A, Lemke S, Schmidt-Ott U, Jaeger J. Quantitative system drift compensates for altered maternal inputs to the gap gene network of the scuttle fly Megaselia abdita. Elife. 2015 Jan 05; 4.
PMID: 25560971

BMP-dependent serosa and amnion specification in the scuttle fly Megaselia abdita.
Rafiqi AM, Park CH, Kwan CW, Lemke S, Schmidt-Ott U. BMP-dependent serosa and amnion specification in the scuttle fly Megaselia abdita. Development. 2012 Sep; 139(18):3373-82.
PMID: 22874914

The generation of variation and the developmental basis for evolutionary novelty.
Hallgrímsson B, Jamniczky HA, Young NM, Rolian C, Schmidt-Ott U, Marcucio RS. The generation of variation and the developmental basis for evolutionary novelty. J Exp Zool B Mol Dev Evol. 2012 Sep; 318(6):501-17.
PMID: 22649039

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Habilitation
Technical University of Braunschweig (Germany)
2001

Dissertation Research Award
Association of Friends of the University of Mainz
1995

Postdoctoral Fellowship
German Research Foundation (DFG)
1995 - 1997

PhD summa cum laude
University of Mainz
1994

Fellow
Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes
1989