BDR researchers coming from diverse research fields are working together to achieve higher goals.

Seminars & Symposia

Seminars & Symposia

BDR hosts annual symposium and regular seminars inviting international scientists in life science.

Careers & Study

Careers & Study

BDR embraces people from diverse backgrounds, and strives to create an open and supportive setting for research.



BDR communicates the appeal and significance of our research to society through the use of various media and activities.



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About Us

About Us

Exploring the scientific foundations of life through interdisciplinary approaches to address society’s problems.

Photo of Team leder, Shigeru Kuratani

Team Leader
Shigeru Kuratani Ph.D.

Laboratory for Evolutionary Morphology

[Closed Mar. 2024]


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Evo-Devo studies to understand the origin of evolutionary novelties in vertebrates

Evolution can be viewed as series of changes introduced to developmental programs of organisms. The ultimate goal of our research project is to reconstruct the mechanical background of development behind evolutionary novelties in vertebrates, such as jaws and turtle crapace, by comparing developmental processes and patterns between different animal species to identify the changed portion of development, by constructing phenocopies to modify a part of developmental programs of model animals, and by integrating the experimental data with fossil data, phylogenetic trees based on molecular data, and variety of genomes in animals.

Research Theme

  • Head
  • Skeletomuscular system
  • Nervous system
  • Vertebrates
  • Cyclostomes

Selected Publications

Hirasawa T, Hu Y, Uesugi K, et al.
Morphology of Palaeospondylus shows affinity to tetrapod ancestors.
Nature 606(7912), 109-112 (2022) doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-04781-3

Takagi W, Sugahara F, Higuchi S, et al.
Thyroid and endostyle development in cyclostomes provides new insights into the evolutionary history of vertebrates.
BMC Biology 20(1), 76 (2022) doi: 10.1186/s12915-022-01282-7

Higuchi S, Sugahara F, Pascual-Anaya J, et al.
Inner ear development in cyclostomes and evolution of the vertebrate semicircular canals.
Nature 565(7739), 347-350 (2019) doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0782-y

Pascual-Anaya J, Sato I, Sugahara F, et al.
Hagfish and lamprey Hox genes reveal conservation of temporal colinearity in vertebrates.
Nature Ecology & Evolution 2(5), 859-866 (2018) doi: 10.1038/s41559-018-0526-2

Sugahara F, Pascual-Anaya J, Oisi Y, et al.
Evidence from cyclostomes for complex regionalization of the ancestral vertebrate brain.
Nature 531, 97-100 (2016) doi: 10.1038/nature16518

Wang Z, Pascual-Anaya J, Zadissa A, et al.
Development and evolution of turtle-specific body plan assessed by genome-wide analyses.
Nature Genetics 45, 701-706 (2013) doi: 10.1038/ng.2615

Oisi Y, Ota KG, Kuraku S, et al.
Craniofacial development of hagfishes and the evolution of vertebrates.
Nature 493, 175-180 (2013) doi: 10.1038/nature11794

Nagashima H, Sugahara F, Takechi M, et al.
Evolution of the turtle body plan by the folding and creation of new muscle connections.
Science 325, 193-196 (2009) doi: 10.1126/science.1173826

Ota KG, Kuraku, S, Kuratani S.
Hagfish embryology with reference to the evolution of the neural crest.
Nature 446, 672-675 (2007) doi: 10.1038/nature05633

Takio Y, Pasqualetti M, Kuraku S, et al.
Evolutionary biology: lamprey Hox genes and the evolution of jaws.
Nature 429(6989), 622 (2004) doi: 10.1038/nature02616

Shigetani Y, Sugahara F, Kawakami Y, et al.
Heterotopic shift of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions in vertebrate jaw evolution.
Science 296(5571), 1316-1319 (2002) doi: 10.1126/science.1068310