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Dr Kristen Panfilio

Job Title
Life Sciences
024 765 73527
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

  • 'Horn, Thorsten, 'Narov, Kalin, 'Panfilio, Kristen A., 2022. 'Persistent parental RNAi in the Beetle Tribolium castaneum involves maternal transmission of long double?stranded RNA. Advanced Genetics
  • 'Panfilio, Kristen A., 'Chuva de Sousa Lopes, S. M., 2022. 'The extended analogy of extraembryonic development in insects and amniotes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 'Vargas, Helena Carolina Martins, 'Panfilio, Kristen A., 'Roelofs, Dick, 'Rezende, Gustavo Lazzaro, 2021. 'Increase in egg resistance to desiccation in springtails correlates with blastodermal cuticle formation : eco-evolutionary implications for insect terrestrialization. Journal of experimental zoology. Part B, Molecular and developmental evolution, 336 (8), pp. 606-619
  • Thomas, Gregg W. C., Dohmen, Elias, Hughes, Daniel S. T., Murali, Shwetha C., Poelchau, Monica, Glastad, Karl, Anstead, Clare A., Ayoub, Nadia A., Batterham, Phillip, Bellair, Michelle, Binford, Greta J., Chao, Hsu, Chen, Yolanda H., Childers, Christopher, Dinh, Huyen, Doddapaneni, Harsha Vardhan, Duan, Jian J., Dugan, Shannon, Esposito, Lauren A., Friedrich, Markus et al (Select to open full list), 2020. Gene content evolution in the arthropods. Genome Biology, 21 (1)
  • Herndon, Nicolae, Shelton, Jennifer, Gerischer, Lizzy, Ioannidis, Panos, Ninova, Maria, Dönitz, Jürgen, Waterhouse, Robert M, Liang, Chun, Damm, Carsten, Siemanowski, Janna, Kitzmann, Peter, Ulrich, Julia, Dippel, Stefan, Oberhofer, Georg, Hu, Yonggang, Schwirz, Jonas, Schacht, Magdalena, Lehmann, Sabrina, Montino, Alice, Posnien, Nico et al (Select to open full list), 2020. Enhanced genome assembly and a new official gene set for Tribolium castaneum. BMC Genomics, 21 (1)
  • Sparks, Michael E., Bansal, Raman, Benoit, Joshua B., Blackburn, Michael B., Chao, Hsu, Chen, Mengyao, Cheng, Sammy, Childers, Christopher, Dinh, Huyen, Doddapaneni, Harsha Vardhan, Dugan, Shannon, Elpidina, Elena N., Farrow, David W., Friedrich, Markus, Gibbs, Richard A., Hall, Brantley, Han, Yi, Hardy, Richard W., Holmes, Christopher J., Hughes, Daniel S. T. et al (Select to open full list), 2020. Brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys (Stål), genome : putative underpinnings of polyphagy, insecticide resistance potential and biology of a top worldwide pest. BMC Genomics, 21 (1)
  • Heger, Peter, Zheng, Wen, Rottmann, Anna, Panfilio, Kristen A., Wiehe, Thomas, 2020. The genetic factors of bilaterian evolution. eLife, 9
  • Rotenberg, Dorith, Baumann, Aaron A., Ben-Mahmoud, Sulley, Christiaens, Olivier, Dermauw, Wannes, Ioannidis, Panagiotis, Jacobs, Chris G. C., Vargas Jentzsch, Iris M., Oliver, Jonathan E., Poelchau, Monica F., Rajarapu, Swapna Priya, Schneweis, Derek J., Snoeck, Simon, Taning, Clauvis N. T., Wei, Dong, Widana Gamage, Shirani M. K., Hughes, Daniel S. T., Murali, Shwetha C., Bailey, Samuel T., Bejerman, Nicolas E. et al (Select to open full list), 2020. Genome-enabled insights into the biology of thrips as crop pests. BMC Biology, 18 (1)
  • Gurska, Daniela, Vargas Jentzsch, Iris M., Panfilio, Kristen A., 2020. Unexpected mutual regulation underlies paralogue functional diversification and promotes epithelial tissue maturation in Tribolium. Communications Biology, 3 (1)
  • Jain, Akanksha, Ulman, Vladimir, Mukherjee, Arghyadip, Prakash, Mangal, Cuenca, Marina B., Pimpale, Lokesh G., Münster, Stefan, Haase, Robert, Panfilio, Kristen A., Jug, Florian, Grill, Stephan W., Tomancak, Pavel, Pavlopoulos, Anastasios, 2020. Regionalized tissue fluidization is required for epithelial gap closure during insect gastrulation. Nature Communications, 11 (1)
  • 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. et al (Select to open full list), 2019. Molecular evolutionary trends and feeding ecology diversification in the Hemiptera anchored by the milkweed bug genome. Genome Biology, 20
  • Panfilio, Kristen A., 2019. Genetics and mechanics combine to guide the embryonic gut. Nature, 572 (7770), pp. 446-447
  • Wilbrandt, Jeanne, Misof, Bernhard, Panfilio, Kristen A., Niehuis, Oliver, 2019. Repertoire-wide gene structure analyses : a case study comparing automatically predicted and manually annotated gene models. BMC Genomics, 20 (1)
  • Benton, Matthew Alan, Frey, Nadine, Nunes da Fonseca, Rodrigo, von Levetzow, Cornelia, Stappert, Dominik, Hakeemi, Muhammad Salim, Conrads, Kai H., Pechmann, Matthias, Panfilio, Kristen A., Lynch, Jeremy A., Roth, Siegfried, 2019. Fog signaling has diverse roles in epithelial morphogenesis in insects. eLife, 8
  • Schoville, Sean D., Chen, Yolanda H., Andersson, Martin N., Benoit, Joshua B., Bhandari, Anita, Bowsher, Julia H., Brevik, Kristian, Cappelle, Kaat, Chen, Mei-Ju M., Childers, Anna K., Childers, Christopher, Christiaens, Olivier, Clements, Justin, Didion, Elise M., Elpidina, Elena N., Engsontia, Patamarerk, Friedrich, Markus, García-Robles, Inmaculada, Gibbs, Richard A., Goswami, Chandan et al (Select to open full list), 2018. A model species for agricultural pest genomics : the genome of the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Coleoptera : Chrysomelidae). Scientific Reports, 8 (1)
  • 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
  • Armisén, David, Rajakumar, Rajendhran, Friedrich, Markus, Benoit, Joshua B., Robertson, Hugh M., Panfilio, Kristen A., Ahn, Seung-Joon, Poelchau, Monica F., Chao, Hsu, Dinh, Huyen, Doddapaneni, Harsha Vardhan, Dugan, Shannon, Gibbs, Richard A., Hughes, Daniel S. T., Han, Yi, Lee, Sandra L., Murali, Shwetha C., Muzny, Donna M., Qu, Jiaxin, Worley, Kim C. et al (Select to open full list), 2018. The genome of the water strider Gerris buenoi reveals expansions of gene repertoires associated with adaptations to life on the water. BMC Genomics, 19 (1)
  • McKenna, Duane D., Scully, Erin D., Pauchet, Yannick, Hoover, Kelli, Kirsch, Roy, Geib, Scott M., Mitchell, Robert F., Waterhouse, Robert M., Ahn, Seung-Joon, Arsala, Deanna, Benoit, Joshua B., Blackmon, Heath, Bledsoe, Tiffany, Bowsher, Julia H., Busch, André, Calla, Bernarda, Chao, Hsu, Childers, Anna K., Childers, Christopher, Clarke, Dave J. et al (Select to open full list), 2016. Genome of the Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis), a globally significant invasive species, reveals key functional and evolutionary innovations at the beetle - plant interface. Genome Biology, 17 (1), pp. 227-
  • Horn, Thorsten, Panfilio, Kristen A., 2016. Novel functions for Dorsocrossin epithelial morphogenesis in the beetle Tribolium castaneum. Development, 143 (16), pp. 3002-3011
  • Hilbrant, Maarten, Horn, Thorsten, Koelzer, Stefan, Panfilio, Kristen A., 2016. The beetle amnion and serosa functionally interact as apposed epithelia. eLife, 5, pp. e13834-
  • Benoit, Joshua B., Adelman, Zach N., Reinhardt, Klaus, Dolan, Amanda, Poelchau, Monica, Jennings, Emily C., Szuter, Elise M., Hagan, Richard W., Gujar, Hemant, Shukla, Jayendra Nath, Zhu, Fang, Mohan, M., Nelson, David R., Rosendale, Andrew J., Derst, Christian, Resnik, Valentina, Wernig, Sebastian, Menegazzi, Pamela, Wegener, Christian, Peschel, Nicolai et al (Select to open full list), 2016. Unique features of a global human ectoparasite identified through sequencing of the bed bug genome. Nature Communications, 7, pp. 10165-
  • Sachs, Lena, Chen, Yen-Ta, Drechsler, Axel, Lynch, Jeremy A., Panfilio, Kristen A., Lässig, Michael, Berg, Johannes, Roth, Siegfried, 2015. Dynamic BMP signaling polarized by Toll patterns the dorsoventral axis in a hemimetabolous insect. eLife, 4, pp. e05502-
  • 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-
  • Schmitt-Engel, Christian, Schultheis, Dorothea, Schwirz, Jonas, Ströhlein, Nadi, Troelenberg, Nicole, Majumdar, Upalparna, Dao, Van Anh, Grossmann, Daniela, Richter, Tobias, Tech, Maike, Dönitz, Jürgen, Gerischer, Lizzy, Theis, Mirko, Schild, Inga, Trauner, Jochen, Koniszewski, Nikolaus D. B., Küster, Elke, Kittelmann, Sebastian, Hu, Yonggang, Lehmann, Sabrina et al (Select to open full list), 2015. The iBeetle large-scale RNAi screen reveals gene functions for insect development and physiology. Nature Communications, 6, pp. 7822-
  • Koelzer, Stefan, Kölsch, Yvonne, Panfilio, Kristen A., 2014. Visualizing late insect embryogenesis : extraembryonic and mesodermal enhancer trap expression in the Beetle Tribolium castaneum. PLoS One, 9 (7)
  • Panfilio, Kristen A., Roth, Siegfried, 2013. Development : getting into the groove, or evolving off the rails?. Current Biology, 23 (24), pp. R1101-R1103
  • Panfilio, Kristen A., Oberhofer, G., Roth, S., 2013. High plasticity in epithelial morphogenesis during insect dorsal closure. Biology Open, 2 (11), pp. 1108-1118
  • Roth, S., Panfilio, Kristen A., 2012. Making waves for segments. Science, 336 (6079), pp. 306-307
  • Ewen-Campen, Ben, Shaner, Nathan, Panfilio, Kristen A., Suzuki, Yuichiro, Roth, Siegfried, Extavour, Cassandra G, 2011. The maternal and early embryonic transcriptome of the milkweed bug Oncopeltus fasciatus. BMC Genomics, 12 (1), pp. 61-
  • Panfilio, Kristen A., Roth, Siegfried, 2010. Epithelial reorganization events during late extraembryonic development in a hemimetabolous insect. Developmental Biology, 340 (1), pp. 100-115
  • Lynch, Jeremy A., Panfilio, Kristen A., Nunes da Fonseca, Rodrigo, 2009. As Tribolium matures as a model insect, Coleopteran Community Congregates in Cologne. Development Genes and Evolution, 219 (9-10), pp. 531-533
  • Panfilio, Kristen A., 2009. Late extraembryonic morphogenesis and its zenRNAi-induced failure in the milkweed bug Oncopeltus fasciatus. Developmental Biology, 333 (2), pp. 297-311
  • Panfilio, Kristen A., 2008. Extraembryonic development in insects and the acrobatics of blastokinesis. Developmental Biology, 313 (2), pp. 471-491
  • Panfilio, Kristen A., Akam, Michael, 2007. A comparison of Hox3 and Zen protein coding sequences in taxa that span the Hox3/zen divergence. Development Genes and Evolution, 217 (4), pp. 323-329
  • Panfilio, Kristen A., Liu, Paul Z., Akam, Michael, Kaufman, Thomas C., 2006. Oncopeltus fasciatus zen is essential for serosal tissue function in katatrepsis. Developmental Biology, 292 (1), pp. 226-243
  • Holland, Linda Z., Panfilio, Kristen A., Chastain, Roger, Schubert, Michael, Holland, Nicholas D., 2005. Nuclear ß-catenin promotes non-neural ectoderm and posterior cell fates in amphioxus embryos. Developmental Dynamics, 233 (4), pp. 1430-1443
  • Clark, Karen, Bender, Günes, Murray, B. Patrick, Panfilio, Kristen A., Cook, Steven, Davis, Raquel, Murnen, Katherine, Tuan, Rocky S., Gilbert, Scott F., 2001. Evidence for the neural crest origin of turtle plastron bones. Genesis: The Journal of Genetics and Development, 31 (3), pp. 111-117
Title Funder Award start Award end
Functional significance and remodeling challenges of polyploidy across the lifetime of epithelial tissues (BBSRC Responsive mode) BBSRC 07 Jan 2021 30 Jun 2024