Comparative Functional Genomics Lab


Welcome to the Comparative Functional Genomics Laboratory at the University of Guelph led by Dr. Andreas Heyland (  Dr. Heyland's laboratory uses novel functional genomics approaches to study the endocrine and neuroendocrine systems of aquatic invertebrates, primarily sea urchin and Daphnia species. Specifically he investigates the function and evolution of hormonal and neurotransmitter signaling systems in the regulation of development and metamorphosis. More recently his research program has applied eco-toxicogenomic approached to understand endocrine disruption in aquatic ecosystems. Specifically his lab is using Daphnia and sea urchins as molecular multi-cellular indicators for water quality assessment. These approaches are integrated with several national and international collaborations focusing on risk assessment for emerging pharmaceuticals as well as the development of novel technologies to remove such compounds from drinking water.

Our research program includes the following projects:

1)      Application of Functional Genomics Approaches to Emerging Models

2)      Mechanisms of Life History Evolution

3)      Iodine and thyroid hormone function in larval development of sea urchins

4)      Histamine function in metamorphic competence of sea urchin larvae



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Background Dr Andreas Heyland: A large part of my scientific career was dedicated to research on life history theory. I carried out my master's project at the marine biological laboratory in Banyuls sur Mer (France) from 1996-1998 investigating settlement behavior of two marine polychaete species using new real time in situ imaging techniques. During the following two years I was working in collaboration with Dr. Paul I. Ward and Dr. Wolf U. Blankenhorn at the University of Zurich on the quantitative genetics of life history trade-offs and sperm competition in the yellow dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria. I started my Ph.D work in the fall of 2000 with the late Dr. Larry McEdward at the University of Florida. I spent several summers at the Friday Harbor Laboratories (University of Washington) conducting independent research and/or teaching. My Ph.D project focused on the role of thyroid hormones (THs) in echinoderm larval development and metamorphosis and its implications for the evolution of alternative life history modes. I finished my Ph.D. in the spring 2004 and began my post-doctoral work with Dr. Leonid Moroz at the Whitney Laboratory (University of Florida).

MSc/PhD position available

A position is available for an MSc or PhD candidate to join a funded research program focusing on the evolution of development in echinoderms. The candidate will work on questions related to sea urchin metamorphosis, specifically the neuronal and physiological mechanisms underlying this process. The project provides a broad range of training opportunities including, molecular, physiological and developmental techniques.

Highly motivated students with a BSc degree and honours research experience (or equivalent) will be considered. Candidates with strong background in development, physiology, molecular biology or biochemistry are preferred. The University of Guelph provides an excellent environment for graduate students, with a competitive stipend (

Interested students should send a statement of interest and relevant experience, curriculum vitae, unofficial transcripts and contact information for two references to Dr. Andreas Heyland, The position will remain open until a suitable applicant is identified. 


New paper on histamine signaling in sea urchin metamorphosis

Comparative Physiology Seminar Series Winter 2012

Mechanisms of Life History Evolution by Flatt, T. and Heyland A. May 2011

ESRI Workshop February 27th 2010