Bringing Together the Living and Dead: Integrating Extant and Fossil Biodiversity in Evolutionary Studies
Sanders, Heather , Rothwell, Gar W. , Wyatt, Sarah .
Paleontology Provides a Context for the Developmental Mechanisms of Evolution.
THE emerging field of evolutionary developmental biology (‘evo-devo’), using genetic traits to explain differences between species, has revolutionized the understanding of biological diversity. Although seldom emphasized in modern evolutionary studies, fossil evidence shows the precise sequence of alterations in morphology that occurred across evolutionary time. Developmental genetics explains the mechanisms of morphological alteration and evolution, while the fossil record provides a context to identify the sequence of alterations that have accumulated during evolution. For example, regulatory pathways known to be involved in shoot development are implicated in the evolution of stem-leaf organography. Leaves of seed plants and ferns evolved leaf characteristics independently through modifications of similar developmental pathways. The fossil record demonstrates that the oldest know leaves of seed plants and ferns were both highly dissected frond-like organs. However, beyond that basic similarity they were very different structures. Since architecture reflects developmental patterning, we know that the fronds of ancestral seed plants and ferns had different developmental regulation. We hypothesize that the sequence of developmental alterations resulting in the evolution of leaves occurred in a different order in ferns and in seed plants. This hypothesis is tested by comparing the development of leaves in seed plants and ferns to identify regulatory pathways that are similar and those that are different.
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1 - Ohio University, Department of Environmental & Plant Biology, Porter Hall, Richland Avenue, Athens, Ohio, 45701-2979, USA
Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Location: 134/Performing Arts Center
Date: Tuesday, August 1st, 2006
Time: 3:00 PM