Dr. Georg Brenneis
Zoological Institute and Museum
Cytology and Evolutionary Biology
Phone: +49 (0)3834 420 4066
Fax: +49 (0)3834 420 4067
I am interested in arthropod development, morphology and diversity – and their study in a phylogenetic and evolutionary framework.
One major focus of my research lies on the arthropod nervous system. Currently, I am working on different aspects of neurogenesis, neural differentiation and neuroanatomy of the marine sea spiders (Pycnogonida). This enigmatic group of arthropods represents an early offshoot within Chelicerata (spiders, scorpions and their relatives), thus holding the potential to reveal ancestral features of the chelicerate nervous system and shed light on its anatomical transformations during early chelicerate evolution.
Further, I am investigating adult neurogenesis – i.e., the life-long production and integration of neural cells into the nervous system of mature animals – in non-insect arthropods. Apart from sea spiders, I am studying the neurogenic cell proliferation system in the brain of adult crayfish. Coupled to collaborative efforts on other chelicerate taxa and myriapods, this project seeks to evaluate similarities and differences of this understudied phenomenon across the major arthropod groups, assess the impact of adult neurogenesis on neural plasticity in Arthropoda and reconstruct lineage-dependent evolutionary changes.
Beyond nervous system-related projects, I am also engaged in (a) the study of other developmental processes in arthropods, such as external morphogenesis and muscle development, (b) the investigation of sea spider life-history features, which is to this day poorly understood for many species, as well as (c) pycnogonid taxonomy and phylogeny.
2013: Dr. rer. nat. (Ph.D.), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (summa cum laude)
Title of thesis: “On the embryonic and post-embryonic development of Pseudopallene sp. (Arthropoda, Pycnogonida) with special focus on neurogenesis and nervous system differentiation”
2007: Diploma in Biology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (passed with distinction)
Title of thesis: “Aspects of the development of sea spiders (Arthropoda, Pycnogonida)”
2001-2007: Studies of Biology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (passed with distinction)
2004-2005: Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität Greifswald, Germany
09/2018-present: Research associate, Cytologie und Evolutionsbiologie, Universität Greifswald, Germany
03/2018-08/2018: Short-term research scholar, Neuroscience Program, Wellesley College, MA, USA
08/2017-01/2018: Guest scientist, Vergleichende Zoologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
03/2015-07/2017: Research associate, Neuroscience Program, Wellesley College, MA, USA
05/2014-02/2015: Research associate, Vergleichende Zoologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
05/2013-01/2014: Guide coordinator, nature guide & reception manager, Arctic Whale Tours, Stø, Norway
09/2008-03/2013: Research associate (Ph.D. student), Vergleichende Zoologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
08/2010-03/2011: Gene expression studies in the lab of Angelika Stollewerk, Queen Mary University London, UK
03/2008-08/2008: Research associate, Allgemeine & Spezielle Zoologie, Universität Rostock, Germany
10/2019: Instructor in field course "Marine Zoological Field Trip", Helgoland, Germany
10/2014-02/2015: Instructor in lab course “Morphology, Phylogeny and Systematics of Animals”
07/2014: Instructor in field course “Ecology & Taxonomy”
05/2014-07/2014: Instructor in lab course “Species Identification of Animals”
2005-2007: Tutor in lab course “Morphology, Phylogeny and Systematics of Animals”
Deutsche Zoologische Gesellschaft e.V. (DZG), International Society for Invertebrate Morphology (ISIM)
Reviewer activities for scientific journals:
Acta Zoologica, Arthropod Structure and Development, Arthropod Systematics and Phylogeny, BMC Neuroscience, Developmental Neurobiology, Helgoland Marine Research, Invertebrate Systematics, Invertebrate Zoology, Journal of Arachnology, Journal of Crustacean Biology, Journal of Morphology, PLoS One, Polar Biology, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Zoosystematics and Evolution, Zootaxa
Reviewer activities for funding agencies:
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Gutachterpanel Forschungsschiffe (GPF)
02/2021-03/2021: Grant for participation as secondary user on Antarctic research expedition PS124,
German Research Vessels Portal & Alfred-Wegener-Institute (AWI)
09/2019: Off-site access grant for the collection of sea spiders at Rothera Research Station (BAS), Antarctica,
ASSEMBLE Plus Transnational Access program
08/2019: Short-term stay at Station Biologique de Roscoff for neuroregeneration studies on sea spiders,
ASSEMBLE Plus Transnational Access program
09/2018-08/2021: Postdoctoral research position (Eigene Stelle), German Science Foundation (DFG)
08/2017-01/2018: Postdoctoral fellowship (Rückkehrstipendium), German Science Foundation (DFG)
03/2015-02/2017: Postdoctoral fellowship (Auslandsforschungsstipendium), German Science Foundation (DFG)
08/2010-01/2011: Ph.D. student scholarship, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
10/2008: Poster prize, The Crustacean Society, “Advances in Crustacean Phylogenetics”, Rostock, Germany
10/2008: Ph.D. student travel stipend, German National Academic Foundation (animal collection trip to Tasmania)
09/2008-02/2009: Ph.D. student scholarship, German National Academic Foundation
01/2007: Katharina-Heinroth-Prize 2008, Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin (diploma thesis)
06/2006: Undergraduate travel stipend, German National Academic Foundation (animal collection trip to Roscoff)
2005-2007: Undergraduate student scholarship, German National Academic Foundation
Brenneis G, Schwentner M, Beltz BS (in preparation): "The gene cascade underlying neurogenesis in the parthenogenetic crayfish Procambarus virginalis."
Brenneis G, Scholtz G (2020): "A postlarval instar of Phoxichilidium femoratum (Pycnogonida, Phoxichilidiidae) with an exceptional malformation." Journal of Morphology. Open Access
Ballesteros JA, Setton EVW, Santibánez López, CE, Arango CP, Brenneis G, Brix S, Cano-Sánchez E, Dandouch M, Dilly GF, Eleaume MP, Gainett G, Gallut C, McAtee S, McIntyre L, Moran AL, Moran R, López-González PJ, Scholtz G, Williamson C, Woods HA, Wheeler WC, Sharma PP (in press): "Phylogenomic resolution of sea spider diversification through integration of multiple data classes." Molecular Biology and Evolution.Advance access
Brenneis G, Arango CP, Sharma PP, Schwentner M (2020): "The more the merrier: unparalleled sympatric species richness in a sea spider genus (Pycnogonida, Callipallenidae, Pallenella) from Tasmanian waters." Invertebrate Systematics 34: 837-870. Article on journal website
Brenneis G, Beltz BS (2020): “Adult neurogenesis in crayfish: origin, expansion and migration of neural progenitor lineages in a pseudostratified neuroepithelium.” Journal of Comparative Neurology 528: 1459-1485. Open Access
Brenneis G, Arango CP (2019): “First description of epimorphic development in Antarctic Pallenopsidae (Arthropoda, Pycnogonida) with insights into the evolution of the four-articled sea spider cheliphore.” Zoological Letters 5:4. Open Access
Brenneis G, Scholtz G, Beltz BS (2018):“Comparison of ventral organ development across Pycnogonida (Arthropoda, Chelicerata) provides evidence for a plesiomorphic mode of late neurogenesis in sea spiders and myriapods.” BMC Evolutionary Biology 18:47. Open Access
Brenneis G, Bogomolova EV, Arango CP, Krapp F (2017):“From egg to “no-body”: an overview and revision of developmental pathways in the ancient arthropod lineage Pycnogonida.”Frontiers in Zoology14:6. Open Access
Beltz BS, Brenneis G, Benton JL (2016):“Adult neurogenesis: lessons from crayfish and the elephant in the room.” Brain Behavior and Evolution 87: 146-155.
Scholtz G, Brenneis G (2016): “The pattern of a specimen of Pycnogonum litorale (Arthropoda, Chelicerata, Pycnogonida) with a supernumerary leg can be explained with the ‘boundary model’ of appendage formation.” The Science of Nature 103:13. Open Access
Brenneis G (2016): “Pycnogonida (Pantopoda).” Book chapter in Structure and Evolution of Invertebrate Nervous Systems (Eds: Schmidt-Rhaesa A, Harzsch S, Purschke G), Oxford University Press, 776 p.
Brenneis G, Scholtz G (2015): “Serotonin-immunoreactivity in the ventral nerve cord of Pycnogonida – support for individually identifiable neurons as ancestral feature of the arthropod nervous system.” BMC Evolutionary Biology 15:136. Open Access
Brenneis G, Scholtz G (2014): “The “ventral organs” of Pycnogonida (Arthropoda) are neurogenic niches of late embryonic and post-embryonic nervous system development.” PLoS One 9(4):e95435. Open Access
Stegner MEJ, Brenneis G, Richter S (2014): “The ventral nerve cord in Cephalocarida (Crustacea) – new insights into the ground pattern of Tetraconata.” Journal of Morphology 275: 269-294.
Brenneis G, Stollewerk A, Scholtz G (2013): “Embryonic neurogenesis in Pseudopallene sp. (Arthropoda, Pycnogonida) includes two subsequent phases with similarities to different arthropod groups.” EvoDevo 4:32. Open Access
Arango CP, Brenneis G (2013): “New species of Australian Pseudopallene (Pycnogonida: Callipallenidae) based on live colouration, morphology and DNA.” Zootaxa 3616: 401-436.
Brenneis G, Arango CP, Scholtz G (2011b): “Morphogenesis of Pseudopallene sp. (Pycnogonida, Callipallenidae) II: Postembryonic development.” Development, Genes and Evolution 221: 329-350.
Brenneis G, Arango CP, Scholtz G (2011a): “Morphogenesis of Pseudopallene sp. (Pycnogonida, Callipallenidae) I: Embryonic development.” Development, Genes and Evolution 221: 309-328.
Richter S, Loesel R; PurschkeG, Schmidt-RhaesaA, ScholtzG, StachT, VogtL, WanningerA, BrenneisG, Döring C, FallerS, FritschM, Grobe P, Hausen H, HeuerCM, KaulS, Møller OS, Müller CHG, Rieger V, Rothe BH, Stegner MEJ, Harzsch S (2010): “Invertebrate neurophylogeny: suggested terms and definitions for a neuroanatomical glossary.” Frontiers in Zoology 7:29. Open Access
Brenneis G, Richter S (2010): “Architecture of the nervous system in Mystacocarida (Arthropoda, Crustacea) – an immunohistochemical study and 3D reconstruction.” Journal of Morphology 271: 169-189.
Brenneis G (2010): “Implikationen der Nervensystem-Entwicklung bei Asselspinnen (Arthropoda, Pycnogonida) für die segmentale Zusammensetzung der Kopfregion. ” Sitzungsberichte Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin (N.F.) 47: 135-150.
Brenneis G, Ungerer P, Scholtz G (2008): “The chelifores of sea spiders (Arthropoda, Pycnogonida) are the appendages of the deutocerebral segment.” Evolution and Development 10: 717-724.
Brenneis G: “Sea spiders in the spotlight: a (more than) daily dose of Asselspinnerei” Zoologisches Institutssymposium. 2019. Universität Greifswald, Germany.
Brenneis G: “Nobodies or Somebodies? Exploring the unexplored potential of sea spiders (Pycnogonida) to inform arthropod evolution” 111th Annual Meeting of the German Zoological Society. 2018. Greifswald, Germany.
Brenneis G: “Adult neurogenesis in two distantly related arthropod groups: understanding the evolution of developmental processes underlying neural plasticity in Arthropoda” Departmental Seminar Neurobiology. 2018. Ulm University, Germany.
Brenneis G:“Nervous systems, niches and non-model organisms – what “nobodies” can tell about the evolution of arthropod neurogenesis” Neuro-Nite Lecture of the Neuroscience Program. 2015. Wellesley College, MA, USA.
Brenneis G: “When a “nobody” begs to differ – How sea spiders challenge current views on arthropod nervous system development and evolution” Departmental Seminar Integrative Zoology. 2014. University of Vienna, Austria.
Brenneis G: “Fitting pieces and further puzzles – What “nobody” can tell about the evolution of arthropod neurogenesis” Evolution and Development Seminar Series. 2012. University of Cambridge, UK.
Scholtz G, Brenneis G: “In search for enigmatic creatures of Tasmanian waters” Meeting of the Rotary Club of the Tasman Peninsula. 2008. Tasmania, Australia.
Brenneis G: “Aspekte der Neurogenese von Asselspinnen (Arthropoda, Pycnogonida)” Sitzung der Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin. 2008. Berlin, Germany.
Brenneis G, Arango, CP, Schwentner M: “The more the merrier - Untersuchungen zur sympatrischen Artenvielfalt der farbenprächtigen Asselspinnengattung Meridionale” 19. Treffen deutschsprachiger Crustaceologen. 2019. Munich, Germany.
Brenneis G, Arango, CP: “New data on the development of Antarctic and tropical sea spiders: implications for the evolution of developmental pathways in Pycnogonida” 9th International Crustacean Congress. 2018. Washington, DC, USA.
Brenneis G, Schwentner M, Beltz BS: “First insights into the gene network governing adult neurogenesis in procambarid crayfish” 110th Annual Meeting of the German Zoological Society. 2017. Bielefeld, Germany.
Brenneis G: “First insights into the gene network underlying embryonic and adult neurogenesis in procambarid crayfish” The Benton Symposium. 2017. Wellesley College, MA, USA.
Brenneis G, Scholtz G, Beltz BS: “Life-long production of neural cells in the CNS of sea spiders (Pycnogonida) – evidence for an ancestral system of adult neurogenesis in Arthropoda?” 109th Annual Meeting of the German Zoological Society. 2016. Kiel, Germany.
Brenneis G, Scholtz G: “Serotonin-like immunoreactive neurons in the ventral nerve cord of Pycnogonida (Arthropoda) – putting a neurophylogenetic argument to the test” 3rd International Congress on Invertebrate Morphology. 2014. Berlin, Germany.
Brenneis G, Scholtz G: “Neurogenesis in sea spiders – a further step towards the euarthropod ground pattern?” 2nd International Congress on Invertebrate Morphology. 2011. Cambridge, MA, USA.
Brenneis G: “A nobody’s contribution to nervous system evolution: Investigating neurogenesis in Pycnogonida” Symposium on the Evolution of the Arthropod Nervous System. 2009. Jena, Germany.
Brenneis G, Richter S: “3D reconstruction of the nervous system in Mystacocarida (Arthropoda, Crustacea)” Celebrating Darwin: From The Origin of Species to Deep Metazoan Phylogeny. 2009. Berlin, Germany.
Brenneis G, Scholtz G: “Brain development in sea spiders and the segmental affiliation of their head appendages” 1st International Congress on Invertebrate Morphology. 2008. Copenhagen, Denmark.
Brenneis G, Schwentner M, Benton JL, Beltz BS: “First insights into the gene network governing embryonic and adult neurogenesis in procambarid crayfish”
Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. 2017. Washington, DC, USA.
9th International Crustacean Congress. 2018. Washington, DC, USA.
Brenneis G, Schwentner M, Beltz BS: “First insights into the gene network underlying embryonic and adult neurogenesis in procambarid crayfish” Crustacean Models in Cross-Disciplinary Biological Research. 2017. Janelia Research Campus, VA, USA.
Stegner, MEJ, Brenneis G, Richter S: “Immunohistochemical survey on the central nervous system in Hutchinsoniella macracantha (Cephalocarida)” Celebrating Darwin: From The Origin of Species to Deep Metazoan Phylogeny. 2009. Berlin, Germany.
Brenneis G, Richter S: “Immunohistochemical study and 3D reconstruction of the central nervous system of Mystacocarida”
Advances in Crustacean Phylogenetics. 2008. Rostock, Germany
First International Conference on Invertebrate Morphology. 2008. Copenhagen, Denmark.
Brenneis G: “Phylogenetic and evolutionary implications of arthropod neurogenesis and neuroarchitecture” EMBO Practical Course: Molecular Approaches to Evolution and Development 2008. Kristineberg, Sweden.
Ungerer P, Brenneis G, Scholtz G: “Phylogenetic and evolutionary implications of sea spider development (Arthropoda, Pycnogonida)” The Evolution of the Animals: a Linnean tercentenary Celebration 2007. The Royal Society. London, UK.