The rapidly growing field of evolutionary-developmental biology (evo-devo) arises from the fusion of formerly disjunct scientific disciplines that traditionally generate very different scientific products. What should the scientific product of evo-devo be? I propose it should be a testable evolutionary scenario. Evolutionary scenarios have suffered eclipse and even opprobrium in recent years, but analysis of genes that control development may make evo-devo scenarios testable, hence scientifically valid. Hypothesis-based studies are more likely than descriptive studies to generate testable evolutionary scenarios. Candidate-gene studies are risky if only one or a few genes are known in the pathway that is putatively responsible for the evolutionary innovation. General questions that may be addressed by evo-devo include the nature of genetic and evolutionary constraint and, conversely, why some clades show "tendencies to evolve." High levels of developmental homeostasis may result in genetic constraint on evolution. Although genetic constraint is largely hypothetical, developmental homeostasis can be measured, so the possibility of its impact on evolutionary potential can be tested. I introduce the "rock band" model to provide a metaphor for the genetic control of development that may allow evolution to occur. The rock band model also illustrates conditions that may lead to greatly increased stability (resembling developmental homeostasis) rendering change unlikely. This paper is Floral Genome Project Contribution number 24.
Frohlich, Michael J.
"Recommendations and Goals for Evo-Devo Research,"
Aliso: A Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany:
1, Article 14.
Available at: http://scholarship.claremont.edu/aliso/vol22/iss1/14
© 2006 Michael W. Frohlich
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