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Bioessays. 2000 Mar;22(3):291-6.

The coral Acropora: what it can contribute to our knowledge of metazoan evolution and the evolution of developmental processes.

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Department of Biochemistry, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia.


The diploblastic Cnidaria form one of the most ancient metazoan phyla and thus provide a useful outgroup for comparative studies of the molecular control of development in the more complex, and more often studied, triploblasts. Among cnidarians, the reef building coral Acropora is a particularly appropriate choice for study. Acropora belongs to the Anthozoa, which several lines of evidence now indicate is the basal class within the phylum Cnidaria, and has the practical advantages that its reproduction is predictable, external and accessible and that the base content of its genome is not strongly biased. The Acropora system has already provided insights into ancestral linkages of homeobox genes and the evolution of the Pax genes, and has the potential to provide further new perspectives on the age, role in development, and evolution of these and other gene families.

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