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Trends Plant Sci. 2016 Jul;21(7):562-573. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2016.02.004. Epub 2016 Mar 15.

(Why) Does Evolution Favour Embryogenesis?

Author information

1
Plant Cell Biology, Faculty of Biology, University of Marburg, Karl-von-Frisch-Str. 8, D-35043 Marburg, Germany; BIOSS Centre for Biological Signalling Studies, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany. Electronic address: stefan.rensing@biologie.uni-marburg.de.

Abstract

Complex multicellular organisms typically possess life cycles in which zygotes (formed by gamete fusion) and meiosis occur. Canonical animal embryogenesis describes development from zygote to birth. It involves polarisation of the egg/zygote, asymmetric cell divisions, establishment of axes, symmetry breaking, formation of organs, and parental nutrition (at least in early stages). Similar developmental patterns have independently evolved in other eukaryotic lineages, including land plants and brown algae. The question arises whether embryo-like structures and associated developmental processes recurrently emerge because they are local optima of the evolutionary landscape. To understand which evolutionary principles govern complex multicellularity, we need to analyse why and how similar processes evolve convergently - von Baer's and Haeckel's phylotypic stage revisited in other phyla.

PMID:
26987708
DOI:
10.1016/j.tplants.2016.02.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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