Timing is Everything in Development and Evolution
Gerardo Antonio Cordero (cE3c – DEM)
The development of organisms is defined by progressive transformations that ultimately give rise to distinct tissues and organs. Thus, knowledge on the timing of developmental processes is crucial to clarifying the mechanisms that underlie phenotypic evolution. In this talk, I discuss the relevance of identifying interspecific and intraspecific developmental differences during the life cycle of vertebrate animals. I highlight examples on the timing of developmental events in avian, mammalian, and reptilian species. In domesticated animals, I address the assumption that selective breeding for unusual traits should override genetic correlations that normally modulate phenotypic variation in nature. I show that the sequence of tightly synchronized events by which chicken embryos are constructed was not altered by strong directional selection in human-controlled environments. These results corroborate that some embryonic stages are particularly susceptible to the effects of genetic mutations or environmental perturbations. Further, I demonstrate how macroevolutionary patterns in body size, and other ecologically relevant traits, can be linked to changes in skeletal maturation processes and growth rates in reptiles. Lastly, I discuss ongoing research on the development and evolutionary morphogenesis of muscle tissue and complex organ systems in model vertebrate species. The exploration of ontogeny and phylogeny is foundational to our basic understanding of biodiversity, while often yielding unexpected findings that are informative to biomedicine and various pursuits of economically importance to humans.
Thursday, April 7, 2022, at 12h00-13h00 (Lisbon, Portugal time)