Benjamin Prud’homme & Nicolas Gompel

IBDML, Benjamin Prud’homme & Nicolas Gompel (BP & NG)

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Scientific Expertise & Collaborations: The Gompel & Prud'homme lab focuses on phenotypic evolution, in particular morphological traits and behaviours. The research projects are developing along two lines: 1) deciphering the functional organization of neuronal circuits controlling an innate behaviours and 2) identifying the neuronal changes underlying the behavioural divergence between fruit fly species. The tool-kit of the lab includes: dissection of gene regulation, molecular biology, biochemistry, transgenesis of different fly species, and imaging of reporter genes. More recently BP & NG have started to import new methods to analyse neuronal networks and behaviours, such as (1) standardization of fly brain imaging (including brain registration), (2) automated analysis of courtship behaviour and (3) use of various effectors to interfere with the activity of few neurons at a time.

Training Expertise: BP & NG are supervising 3 PhD students, 3 post-docs and 3 technicians. They give lectures to master degree/undergraduate and graduate students on regulatory evolution and courses on the systematics, phylogenetics and ecology of Drosophila species.

Training & Research Environment: The Developmental Biology Institute of Marseille (IBDML) is a highly ranked research institute of the CNRS and the University of Marseille whose motto is “understanding development to understand pathologies”. Additionally, it is a joint research unit (UMR 6216) set up by the CNRS and the Université de la Méditerranée. It comprises 24 groups including 9 working on different aspects of neurobiology and neural development. The Institute provides state-of-the-art transgenic, informatics, and imaging services.

The local training of the students is implemented both at the level of the institute and at the level of the graduate school. In the institute, the students are exposed to a variety of topics and techniques through weekly group meetings, internal seminars, external seminars bringing international speakers and several specialized journal clubs. In addition keynote lectures bring high profile scientists to the institute on a regular basis. 

The international graduate school of the University Aix-Marseille 2 is based on 70 research laboratories comprising about 500 scientists ( The graduate school is devoted to transversal teaching. Education is organized in theoretical modules all along the training period and covers specific scientific topics, as well as more general areas, such as communication, enterprise culture, ethics in science etc.

Most relevant publications:

1. Prud'homme B, Minervino C, Hocine M, Cande JD, Aouane A, Dufour HD, Kassner VA, Gompel N  (2011) Body plan innovation in treehoppers through the evolution of an extra wing-like appendagNature 473(7345):83-6. 

Gompel, N.*, Prud’homme, B.* (2009), The causes of repeated genetic evolutionDev. Biol. 332, 36-47.

2. Prud'homme, B.*, Gompel, N.*, Rokas, A., Kassner, V. A., Williams, T. M., Yeh, S. D., True, J. R., Carroll S.B. (2006). Repeated morphological evolution through cis-regulatory changes in a pleiotropic geneNature 440, 1050-3 (*= co-first authors)

3. Gompel, N.*, Prud'homme, B.*, Wittkopp, P. J., Kassner, V. A. and Carroll, S. B (2005). Chance caught on the wing: cis-regulatory evolution and the origin of pigment patterns in DrosophilaNature 433, 481-7 (*= co-first authors)