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Pierre Tardent: A passion for marine biology

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The Swiss zoologist Pierre Tardent, professor at the University of Zurich, was a leading expert on the biology and ecology of Cnidaria. As a generalist he had a deep interest in marine life and accumulated an impressive knowledge ever since his postdoctoral studies at the Stazione Zoologica of Naples and at the Friday Harbor Marine Laboratories of the University of Seattle. At Naples he was as an assistant of Reinhard Dohrn and soon became director of the zoology department. Pierre Tardent was an excellent university teacher in zoology for biology and medical students. Over a time span of 30 years he annually came to the Laboratoire Arago in Banyuls-sur-Mer to teach marine biology classes and courses for advanced students of the University of Zurich. His colleagues, collaborators, former students and friends remember Pierre Tardent as an outstanding scientist, an inspiring mentor and a dear friend.
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Hydra and Podocolyne are two cnidarian animals which provide complementary advantages for analysing developmental mechanisms possibly reflecting the basic developmental processes shared by most bilaterians. Interestingly, these mechanisms remain accessible all along the life of these animals, which bud and regenerate, whatever their age. The Hydra polyp permits a direct study of the molecular cascades linking amputation to regeneration. Podocoryne displays a complete life cycle, polyp and medusa stages with a fast and inducible sexual cycle and an unparalleled In vitro transdifferentiation potential. In both cases, a large number of evolutionarily conserved molecular markers are available, and analysis of their regulation highlights the molecular mechanisms which underly pattern formation in these two species.