Cell-type profiling in salamanders identifies innovations in vertebrate forebrain evolution

Jamie Woych, Alonso Ortega Gurrola, Astrid Deryckere, Eliza C B Jaeger, Elias Gumnit, Gianluca Merello, Jiacheng Gu, Alberto Joven Araus, Nicholas D Leigh, Maximina Yun, András Simon, Maria Antonietta Tosches

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The evolution of advanced cognition in vertebrates is associated with two independent innovations in the forebrain: the six-layered neocortex in mammals and the dorsal ventricular ridge (DVR) in sauropsids (reptiles and birds). How these innovations arose in vertebrate ancestors remains unclear. To reconstruct forebrain evolution in tetrapods, we built a cell-type atlas of the telencephalon of the salamander Pleurodeles waltl. Our molecular, developmental, and connectivity data indicate that parts of the sauropsid DVR trace back to tetrapod ancestors. By contrast, the salamander dorsal pallium is devoid of cellular and molecular characteristics of the mammalian neocortex yet shares similarities with the entorhinal cortex and subiculum. Our findings chart the series of innovations that resulted in the emergence of the mammalian six-layered neocortex and the sauropsid DVR.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabp9186
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalScience (New York, N.Y.)
Issue number6610
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics

Free keywords

  • Animals
  • Atlases as Topic
  • Biological Evolution
  • Neocortex/cytology
  • Neurons/metabolism
  • Pleurodeles/physiology
  • Telencephalon/cytology
  • Transcriptome


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