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Trends Ecol Evol. 2006 Jul;21(7):362-8. Epub 2006 May 19.

Evo-devo and constraints on selection.

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Institute of Biology, Leiden University, PO Box 9516, 2300 RA Leiden, the Netherlands.


Developmental bias, or genetic channeling, can influence the tempo and direction of evolution and, thus, become reflected in patterns of biodiversity. Twenty years ago, this notion rested on armchair descriptions of potential constraints on evolution. Now, a broad evo-devo approach involving both evolutionary and developmental genetics provides experimental analysis of such bias, revealing how shared genetic or developmental pathways among morphological traits contribute to the evolution of complexity and diversity, and that developmental bias itself evolves, generating variation in evolvability. As I discuss here, it is now possible to determine the relative importance of natural selection and of genetical and developmental architecture as determinants of organic diversity, particularly for examples of adaptive radiations and parallel evolution.

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