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Dr Kristen Panfilio



Associate Professor


Life Sciences
University of Warwick
Tel: 024 765 73527
WebLink: Comparative morphogenesis and macroevolution

Research Interests

The Panfilio Lab focuses on embryonic development in insects to investigate both (a) epithelial tissue morphogenesis and (b) molecular evolution and comparative genomics on macroevolutionary timescales.

Our research on morphogenesis - the creation of form - explores how the fertilized egg develops the correct organismal shape, and how strategies differ between species. Which features are robust, and which are sensitive to perturbation and could result in birth defects? To actively protect the embryo, the insect extraembryonic tissues exhibit many epithelial remodeling behaviors that are typical of animal development. We explore their activity and genetic regulation through functional, live cell imaging investigations, primarily in the flour beetle Tribolium castaneum.

At the same time, we focus on the milkweed bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus, as an experimentally tractable model for comparative investigations centered on the Hemiptera, the largest order of hemimetabolous insects. The Hemiptera, including medical and agricultural pests such as bed bugs and aphids, are diverse but poorly studied. Recent genome sequencing now allows us to investigate the genetic basis of what makes a bug, a bug.

Overall, our main aim is to understand the regulatory control that strikes a balance between the evolution of species-specific features and robust development and organismal function.


2007: Ph.D., University of Cambridge, Department of Zoology (UK)
2002: M.Phil., University of Cambridge, Department of Zoology (UK)
2001: B.A., Swarthmore College, Biology Department (USA)

British Society for Developmental Biology: member, from Mar. 2017
German Society for Developmental Biology (Gesellschaft für Entwicklungsbiologie) member, from Dec. 2014
European Society for Evolutionary Developmental Biology: member, from Aug. 2006


  • Panfilio, Kristen A., Vargas Jentzsch, Iris M., Benoit, Joshua B., Erezyilmaz, Deniz, Suzuki, Yuichiro, Colella, Stefano, Robertson, Hugh M., Poelchau, Monica F., Waterhouse, Robert M., Ioannidis, Panagiotis, Weirauch, Matthew T., Hughes, Daniel S. T., Murali, Shwetha C., Werren, John H., Jacobs, Chris G.C., Duncan, Elizabeth J., Armisén, David, Vreede, Barbara M. I., Baa-Puyoulet, Patrice, Berger, Chloé S., Chang, Chun-che, Chao, Hsu, Chen, Mei-Ju M., Chen, Yen-Ta, Childers, Christopher P., Chipman, Ariel D., Cridge, Andrew G., Crumià¨re, Antonin J. J., Dearden, Peter K., Didion, Elise M., Dinh, Huyen, Doddapaneni, Harsha Vardhan, Dolan, Amanda, Dugan-Perez, Shannon, Extavour, Cassandra G., Febvay, Gérard, Friedrich, Markus, Ginzburg, Neta, Han, Yi, Heger, Peter, Holmes, Christopher J., Horn, Thorsten, Hsiao, Yi-min, Jennings, Emily C., Johnston, J. Spencer, Jones, Tamsin E., Jones, Jeffery W., Khila, Abderrahman, Koelzer, Stefan, Kovacova, Viera, Leask, Megan, Lee, Sandra L., Lee, Chien-Yueh, Lovegrove, Mackenzie R., Lu, Hsiao-Ling, Lu, Yong, Moore, Patricia J., Munoz-Torres, Monica C., Muzny, Donna M., Palli, Subba R., Parisot, Nicolas, Pick, Leslie, Porter, Megan, Qu, Jiaxin, Refki, Peter N., Richter, Rose, Rivera-Pomar, Rolando, Rosendale, Andrew J., Roth, Siegfried, Sachs, Lena, Santos, M. Emà­lia, Seibert, Jan, Sghaier, Essia, Shukla, Jayendra N., Stancliffe, Richard J., Tidswell, Olivia, Traverso, Lucila, van der Zee, Maurijn, Viala, Séverine, Worley, Kim C., Zdobnov, Evgeny M., Gibbs, Richard A., Richards, Stephen, 2019. Molecular evolutionary trends and feeding ecology diversification in the Hemiptera anchored by the milkweed bug genome. Genome Biology, 20, View
  • Panfilio, Kristen A., Angelini, David R., 2018. By land, air, and sea : hemipteran diversity through the genomic lens. Current Opinion in Insect Science, 25, pp. 106-115, View
  • Horn, Thorsten, Panfilio, Kristen A., 2016. Novel functions for Dorsocrossin epithelial morphogenesis in the beetle Tribolium castaneum. Development, 143 (16), pp. 3002-3011, View
  • Hilbrant, Maarten, Horn, Thorsten, Koelzer, Stefan, Panfilio, Kristen A., 2016. The beetle amnion and serosa functionally interact as apposed epithelia. eLife, 5, pp. e13834-, View
  • Horn, Thorsten, Hilbrant, Maarten, Panfilio, Kristen A., 2015. Evolution of epithelial morphogenesis : phenotypic integration across multiple levels of biological organization. Frontiers in Genetics, 6, pp. 303-, View

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