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Members of the laboratory work to identify the molecules and cell/tissue events underlying pattern formation, with the long-term goal to better understand how these mechanisms shape the diversity seen in natural patterns in the wild. To do so, we make use of birds and of natural variation in their plumage patterns. Our methods include micro-manipulation embryology, imaging, mathematical modelling and biophysical measures.


The laboratory established a vast and unique network of collaborations with local bird breeders, hobbyists, zoos, and governments (i.e., The Falkland Islands), and created a breeding facility at the Collège de France. 


The mechanisms ensuring pattern directionality and reproducibility are poorly understood. We work to uncover how sources of positional signals shape the direction / position of large colour domains in the plumage of Estrildid finches (about 40 species). We use transcriptomics, expression analyses, functional developmental studies, and tissue recombination experiments. 

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Color pattern variation in finches, see Hidalgo et al.

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Many animals display periodic patterns (i.e., repetitions of a basic motif at intervals of space or time). Numerical simulations can visually reproduce in silico patterns seen in nature but the in vivo control of periodicity establishment remains a mystery. We work to uncover mechanisms of periodic feather and colour patterns using expression analyses, genetics, mathematical modelling and tissue recombination. 

Periodic tract patterns

See Bailleul et al. 2019

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Periodic color patterns

See Haupaix et al. 2018

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Feathers are spatially arranged in dotted arrays. While those have been widely studied theoretically, the cell/tissue dynamics involved in the regulation of their size and spacing in vivo remain unknown. Here, we work to identify the morphogenetic dynamics controlling the patterning of local feather geometries across the surface of the avian skin. We use a combination of imaging and mathematical modelling in a wide range of bird species .

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Local Feather pattern variation, see Curantz et al.



Research in the Manceau lab is funded by:

The National Research Agency (ANR)

The Bettencourt Schueller Foundation

The FSER Foundation

The Human Frontiers Science Program (HFSP Collaborative Grant)

IDEX-Paris Sciences et Lettres University (Labex MemoLife)

European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant)

The Paris Sciences et Lettres Research University (PSL / Young Investigator Grant)

The Centre National pour la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS / ATIP-Avenir Grant)

The Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM / ATIP-Avenir Grant)


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