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Mario Wullimann

Our current research is focused on - but not restricted to - the embryonic/postembryonic development of the teleostean forebrain. Based on our previously established adult neuroanatomy of the zebrafish, we study developmental aspects (morphogenesis, proliferation, prosomeres, radial glia, neurogenesis, neuronal phenotype development) using various cellular and molecular markers (e.g., early transcription factor expression, markers for neurochemical phenotypes, such as choline acetyltransferase, tyrosine hydroxylase, GABA) in comparison to similar data in the adult zebrafish brain. My background is comparative neurobiology, thus, the ultimate goal of my research is two-fold: (1) our analyses provide detailed information on the phenotypic level for cross-comparisons between model systems, and (2) at the same time, we aim at furthering the general understanding of the zebrafish (teleost) brain in an evolutionary vertebrate context. Thus, while most of our studies deal with the zebrafish, we also investigate additional teleosts, amphibians (Xenopus), and mouse.


                Mouse                                          Zebrafish                                            Xenopus


Major research directions:

  • Early development of GABAergic neurons in the zebrafish
  • Adult configuration of major neurotransmitter systems in the zebrafish
  • Early proliferation and proneural gene expression in vertebrates
  • A Substantia nigra-like dopamine system in the zebrafish
  • Rhombic lip derived neuronal hindbrain populations and cerebellar development
  • Behavioral and neuronal mechanisms of olfactory imprinting in zebrafish (DFG-Project within the Schwerpunktprogramm "Integrative Analysis of Olfaction")
  • Comparative neurochemistry of teleostean modulatory systems
  • Electrosensory and visual pathways in the brain of African mormyrids

Lab members:

Daniela Biechl (PhD student)
Sigrid Kress (PhD student)
Susanne Schmid (Bachelor thesis)
Bea Stiening (lab technician)


Laure Bally Cuif, CNRS (Gif-sur-Yvette, France)
Boris Chagnaud, Universität Graz (Austria)
Gabriele Gerlach (Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg (Germany)
Reinhard Köster, Technical University (Braunschweig, Germany)
Thomas Mueller, University of Kansas (Manhattan, USA)
Soojin Ryu, MPI for Medical Research (Heidelberg, Germany)
Ronen Segev, Ben Gurion University of the Negev (Israel)
Jeremy Ullmann, University of Queensland, Brisbane (Australia)
Philippe Vernier, CNRS (Gif-sur-Yvette; France)
Gerhard von der Emde, Universität Bonn (Germany)