The 24th Developmental Biology of the Sea Urchin (DBSU) Meeting will be held at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) from April 5-9, 2017 in Woods Hole, MA. Since 1980 this conference has been held approximately every 18 months to bring together the international community of developmental and cell biologists who use sea urchins as a model system for research. The recent deliberate inclusion of investigators working on other non-canonical model systems has made it a unique and important meeting for a broader community of developmental biologists. The DBSU meeting now includes participation of researchers working on the cell and developmental biology of other marine invertebrate models (e.g. other echinoderms, tunicates, hemichordates, cephalochordates, mollusks, cnidarians, ctenophores and sponges). There is no other meeting that focuses on the comparative development of marine invertebrates and the 24th 'Sea Urchin Meeting' will continue to serve as an important venue for promoting collaborations between scientists working on non-canonical marine invertebrate model systems. The meeting sessions, which are divided into plenary sessions, concurrent sessions and poster sessions, will highlight experimental findings that contribute to our understanding of how a fertilized egg becomes an embryo with many distinct cell types. Moreover, there will be sessions that address questions such as how stem cells arise, how animals regenerate lost body parts, and how changes in the marine environment are negatively impacting marine invertebrates. These questions are of great interest to the public and relevant to human health. The meeting will promote the participation of junior scientists and the participation of scientists from groups typically underrepresented in the sciences. In addition, this meeting will have an education session that will promote the use of marine invertebrate embryos in undergraduate teaching of developmental biology and in community outreach.
Marine invertebrate model systems have made major contributions to our current knowledge of many aspects of biology, including developmental biology. The diversity of marine invertebrate model systems that will be featured at this meeting will provide opportunities to continue the systems level comparisons of development and evolution in phylogenetically informative bilaterian and non-bilaterian taxa. This meeting will also highlight recent advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that specify embryonic polarity in oocytes and embryos, mechanisms regulating mitotic patterns, novel ideas on the evolution of nervous systems, gene regulatory network level analyses on morphogenesis, insights into the evolution of stem cells and regeneration, and the ecological and environmental influences on embryonic and larval development. In addition, there will be a session on application of relevant recently developed techniques (e.g. genome editing) to manipulate development in non-canonical marine invertebrates.