Nikos Konstantinides studied Biology at the University of Athens in Greece (2006). He then moved to the University of Crete for his graduate studies, where he finished a Master in Molecular Biology and Biomedicine (2009). He obtained his PhD (2014) from the University of Crete working on the cellular basis of appendage regeneration of an amphipod crustacean, Parhyale hawaiensis, in the lab of Michalis Averof at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. He then did his postdoctoral research in the lab of Claude Desplan at the New York University working on developmental mechanisms of neuronal specification in the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster. Nikos was appointed by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in 2021 and started his research team at the Institut Jacques Monod in Paris. His team is interested in the evolution of development of neuronal diversity, using the insect optic lobe as a model system.
Our lab is interested in understanding how the impressive neuronal diversity that we observe in animals is generated in two very different temporal scales: first, we study mechanisms that operate during the hours, days, or weeks of embryonic development, and, second, we study how these mechanisms have evolved over the hundreds of millions of years of animal evolution. We use the visual brain of the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster as a model neuronal system to address the above questions. This visual brain of Drosophila has been described extensively in terms of cell type composition from a morphological and transcriptomic perspective. Moreover, we have a detailed mechanistic understanding of its development, where the interplay of temporal and spatial patterning of the neuronal stem cells leads to the generation of, at least, 150 different neuronal types. This gives us a comprehensive map, which we use as a reference to compare the visual brains of diverse insects that span the insect phylogenetic tree and include wasps, silkworms, beetles, crickets. Our ultimate goal is to compare cell type compositions between different brains, as well as their neurodevelopmental mechanisms to understand how neurons that are tightly interconnected in complex neuronal systems change and how new neuronal types evolve to adapt to a changing environment, form new circuits, and trigger different behaviors.