Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Measuring evolution’s waistline

06.06.2011
Gene expression data offer surprising evidence that embryos of different vertebrate species are most similar at intermediate stages of development

Nearly 150 years ago, noted German biologist Ernst Haeckel made the bold assertion that ‘ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny’: in other words, morphological changes that occur during an organism’s embryonic development mirror its evolutionary history.

This concept has long since been debunked, but has nevertheless provided useful starting points for considering the yet-unsolved question of how the developmental process has evolved. Naoki Irie of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe has pondered this problem since graduate school. “My main interest then and now has been to understand the basic or common rules of how animal bodies develop,” he says.

Now, as a postdoctoral fellow in Shigeru Kuratani’s laboratory at CDB, Irie has conducted an ambitious comparative analysis of four vertebrate species with the aim of resolving an ongoing debate over two prevailing evolutionary models1. The ‘funnel-like’ model, informed in part by Haeckel’s thinking, suggests that the process of vertebrate embryonic development is very similar across species at the earliest stages, but increasingly differs at later stages. In contrast, the ‘hourglass’ model suggests that the earliest and latest stages of development differ considerably, whereas the greatest similarity is observed at the intermediate stages where organ development and body patterning take place.

To resolve this so-called ‘evo-devo’ debate, Irie and Kuratani analyzed changes in expression levels of thousands of evolutionarily conserved genes at different developmental points in the mouse, chicken, frog and zebrafish. The data provided striking support for the hourglass model, with gene transcription levels most similar at the intermediate stage known as ‘pharyngula’, where the animal has developed primitive precursors of the heart, kidney, brain and other tissues. They observed particularly strong conservation of activity among the Hox genes, which contribute to limb development, as well as several growth factor genes.

These findings offer new fuel for the evo-devo debate, but also raise complicated questions. “It is puzzling for me how vertebrate embryos established differences in early developmental stages while conserving the mid-embryonic stages,” says Irie. “It’s obvious that later developmental stages will not exist if earlier stages fail to develop successfully.”

Irie now hopes to obtain further support for the hourglass model by expanding his approach to include well-characterized invertebrate species, such as the fruit fly. He also intends to dig deeper into the nuts and bolts of development. “We would like to go down to the level of tissues and primordial organs to find which structures have been conserved during evolution,” he says.

The corresponding author for this highlight is based at the Laboratory for Evolutionary Morphology, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology

Journal information

[1] Irie, N. & Kuratani, S. Comparative transcriptome analysis reveals vertebrate phylotypic period during organogenesis. Nature Communications 2, 248 (2011)

gro-pr | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.riken.jp
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View
22.06.2018 | University of Sussex

nachricht New cellular pathway helps explain how inflammation leads to artery disease
22.06.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Superconducting vortices quantize ordinary metal

Russian researchers together with their French colleagues discovered that a genuine feature of superconductors -- quantum Abrikosov vortices of supercurrent -- can also exist in an ordinary nonsuperconducting metal put into contact with a superconductor. The observation of these vortices provides direct evidence of induced quantum coherence. The pioneering experimental observation was supported by a first-ever numerical model that describes the induced vortices in finer detail.

These fundamental results, published in the journal Nature Communications, enable a better understanding and description of the processes occurring at the...

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rapid water formation in diffuse interstellar clouds

25.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Using tree-fall patterns to calculate tornado wind speed

25.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Stealth' material hides hot objects from infrared eyes

25.06.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>