Dr. Matthes Kenning

Research topics

Form follows function?

The legs of arthropods are one, if not the eponymous key innovation of arthropods - the arthropodium.
In taking on a sheer plethora of functions including locomotion, food handling and ingestion, but also copulation, respiration, and sensation / reception, arthropodia are one of the most versatile, most specialized and hence, likely one of the most widely modified features known.
Among various taxa, these transformations have occured
independently many times over, rendering arthropods and their legs in particular excellent models to study and understand pathways of adaptive evolution.
The aim of our project is to investigate the terminal legs of centipedes (Myriapoda), another significant but hitherto largely unregarded example of transformation cascades. The terminal (or ultimate) legs of chilopods are rarely used for locomotion, if at all. In contrast, in many cases the legs are transformed into a sensory appendage, resembling the antennae. Also, some species possess legs that rather might function as claws or pincers.
We explore this particular chilopod character in terms of distribution, morphology, variability, behaviroal adaptations as well as sensillar and glandular organization using a multimodal microscopic and electrophysiological approach. Comparisons with antennae and "real" walking legs will help us to unravel potential constructional or functional morphological constraints in the course of evolutionary transformation from former walking legs in what is now assumed to be a sensory appendage.

Greifswald Myriapod Group

Myriapod Morphology & Evolution on Facebook

Contributions to conferences
  • MorphoEvoDevo DZG-Satellite-Symposium, Greifswald (2018)

  • Arthropod Neuro-Network, Altleiningen (2018)

  • 110. Jahrestreffen der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft, Bielefeld (2017)

  • 17th International Congress of Myriapodology, Krabi, Thailand (2017)

  • International Conference of Invertebrate Morphology III, Berlin (2014)

  • Graduiertentreffen Rauischholzhausen: Development and Plasticity of the Insect Nervous System (2014)

  • Arthropod Neuro Network, Hamburg (2010)

  • Institutssymposium Zoologisches Institut Universität Greifswald, Germany (2010)
  • 111. Jahrestreffen der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft, Greifswald (2018)
  • 110. Jahrestreffen der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft, Bielefeld (2017)
  • 17. Crustaceologen-Tagung, Bremerhaven (2015)
  • International Crustacean Congress VIII, Frankfurt (2014)
  • 16. Crustaceologen Tagung, Greifswald (2013)
  • 105. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft, Konstanz, (2012)
  • 15. Tagung Deutschsprachige Crustaceologen, Regensburg (2011)
  • 9th Göttingen Meeting of the German Neuroscience Society, Göttingen (2011)
  • 103. Jahresversammlung der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft, Hamburg (2010)
  • 1st. Arthropod Neuro Network, Hamburg (2010)

Deutsche Zoologische Gesellschaft (DZG)

Centre international de Myriapodologie (CIM)


(including book chapters and published abstracts)


[13] Kenning M, Schendel V, Müller CHG, Sombke A(2019) Comparative morphology of ultimate and walking legs in the centipede Lithobius forficatus (Myriapoda) with functional implications. Zoological Letters. Open Access


[12] Schendel V, Kenning M, Sombke A (2018) A comparative analysis of the ventral nerve cord of Lithobius forficatus (Lithobiomorpha): morphology, neuroanatomy, and individually identifiable neurons. Arthropod Systematics & Phylogeny. Open Access


[11] Müller CHG, Kenning M, Hylleberg J, Michalik P (2017) Histological and electron microscopic analysis of the papillated epidermal organs of an unknown species of Phascolion (Sipuncula) from Ibiza (Spain). In: Boyle MJ, Kawauchi GY (eds.). Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on the Biology of the Sipuncula. Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, Washington D.C., U.S.A. Link

[10] Kenning M, Müller CHG, Sombke A (2017) The ultimate legs of Chilopoda (Myriapoda): a review on their morphological disparity and functional variability. PeerJ 5:e4023. Open Access

[9] Kenning M, Sombke A (2017) Sensing from Both Ends? Transformation of Locomotory into Multifunctional Appendages in Chilopoda (Myriapoda). Tropical Natural History, Supplement 5: 22 (published abstract, 17th International Congress of Myriapodology). Link


[8] Kenning M (2017) Evolution des olfaktorischen Systems der Isopoda: Einblicke aus Neuroanatomie und Ethologie von Saduria entomon (Valvifera) Linnaeus, 1758. Inaugural-Dissertation Universität Greifswald. 148 p. Link


[7] Kenning M, Lehmann P, Lindström M, Harzsch S (2015) Heading which way? Y-maze chemical assays – not all crustaceans are alike. Helgoland Marine Research 69(3): 305-311. Link


[6] Sandeman D, Kenning M, Harzsch S (2014) Adaptive trends in malacostracan brain form and function related to behavior. In: Derby C and Thiel M (Eds.) Crustacean Nervous System and their Control of Behavior. The Natural History of the Crustacea. Vol. 3. pp. 11–48. Oxford University Press. Link


[5] Loesel R, Wolf H, Kenning M, Harzsch S, Sombke A (2013) Architectural principles and evolution of the arthropod central nervous system. In: Minelli A (Eds.) Arthropod Biology and Evolution – Molecules, Development, Morphology. pp. 299-342. Springer, Berlin. Link

[4] Kenning M, Harzsch S (2013) Brain anatomy of the marine isopod Saduria entomon Linnaeus, 1758 (Valvifera, Isopoda) with special emphasis on the olfactory pathway. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy Open Access

[3] Kenning M, Müller C, Wirkner CS, Harzsch S (2013) The Malacostraca (Crustacea) from a neurophylogenetic perspective: new insights from brain architecture in Nebalia herbstii Leach, 1814 (Leptostraca, Phyllocarida). Zoologischer Anzeiger - A Journal of Comparative Zoology 252: 319-336. Link


[2] Sombke A, Lipke E, Kenning M, Müller C, Hansson BS, Harzsch S (2012) Comparative analysis of deutocerebral neuropils in Chilopoda (Myriapoda): implications for the evolution of the arthropod olfactory system and support for the Mandibulata concept. BMC Neuroscience 13: 1. Open Access

[1] Krieger J, Sombke A, Seefluth F, Kenning M, Hansson BS, Harzsch S (2012) Comparative brain architecture of the European shore Crab Carcinus maenas (Brachyura) and the Common hermit Crab Pagurus bernhardus (Anomura). Cell and Tissue Research. 348(1):47-69. Link