Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Rev Genet. 2015 Oct;16(10):611-22. doi: 10.1038/nrg3982. Epub 2015 Sep 15.

Eco-Evo-Devo: developmental symbiosis and developmental plasticity as evolutionary agents.

Author information

Department of Biology, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081, USA.
Biotechnology Institute, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland.
Zoological Institute, Christian-Albrechts-University, D-24118 Kiel, Germany.
Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA.


The integration of research from developmental biology and ecology into evolutionary theory has given rise to a relatively new field, ecological evolutionary developmental biology (Eco-Evo-Devo). This field integrates and organizes concepts such as developmental symbiosis, developmental plasticity, genetic accommodation, extragenic inheritance and niche construction. This Review highlights the roles that developmental symbiosis and developmental plasticity have in evolution. Developmental symbiosis can generate particular organs, can produce selectable genetic variation for the entire animal, can provide mechanisms for reproductive isolation, and may have facilitated evolutionary transitions. Developmental plasticity is crucial for generating novel phenotypes, facilitating evolutionary transitions and altered ecosystem dynamics, and promoting adaptive variation through genetic accommodation and niche construction. In emphasizing such non-genomic mechanisms of selectable and heritable variation, Eco-Evo-Devo presents a new layer of evolutionary synthesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center