Helene Fradin

My research focuses on the evolution of early development in species of nematodes closely related to the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, as well as the evolution of reproduction mode in these species. I study a group of nematode species called Protorhabditis, the closest genus to the Caenorhabditis species, meaning that they diverged “recently” compared to any other group of nematodes. Despite this evolutionary proximity, they have very specific derived characteristics such as a distinct organization of cells in the four-cell embryo, and a particular reproduction mode called parthenogenesis – the development of an embryo without fertilization. I want to compare homologous processes between Caenorhabditis species and Protorhabditis species to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie these evolutionary changes. The nematode embryo is a simple cellular system that shares many essential cellular processes with other animals, including humans, which makes it a powerful system to study the evolution of cellular events.