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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2012 Dec;22(6):593-9. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2012.08.003. Epub 2012 Aug 24.

Evolution in developmental phenotype space.

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Institute of Biology of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, CNRS UMR8197, Inserm U1024, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 46 rue d'Ulm, 75230 Paris cedex 05, France.


Developmental systems can produce a variety of patterns and morphologies when the molecular and cellular activities within them are varied. With the advent of quantitative modeling, the range of phenotypic output of a developmental system can be assessed by exploring model parameter space. Here I review recent examples where developmental evolution is studied using quantitative models, which increasingly rely on empirically determined molecular signaling pathways and their crosstalk. Quantitative pathway evolution may result in dramatic morphological changes. Alternatively, in many developmental systems, the phenotypic output is robust to a range of parameter variation, and cryptic developmental evolution may occur without morphological change. Formalization and measurements of the relationship between genetic variation and parameter variation in developmental models remain in their infancy.

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