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, 95 (5), 382-96

Hypothesis Testing in Evolutionary Developmental Biology: A Case Study From Insect Wings


Hypothesis Testing in Evolutionary Developmental Biology: A Case Study From Insect Wings

E L Jockusch et al. J Hered.


Developmental data have the potential to give novel insights into morphological evolution. Because developmental data are time-consuming to obtain, support for hypotheses often rests on data from only a few distantly related species. Similarities between these distantly related species are parsimoniously inferred to represent ancestral aspects of development. However, with limited taxon sampling, ancestral similarities in developmental patterning can be difficult to distinguish from similarities that result from convergent co-option of developmental networks, which appears to be common in developmental evolution. Using a case study from insect wings, we discuss how these competing explanations for similarity can be evaluated. Two kinds of developmental data have recently been used to support the hypothesis that insect wings evolved by modification of limb branches that were present in ancestral arthropods. This support rests on the assumption that aspects of wing development in Drosophila, including similarities to crustacean epipod patterning, are ancestral for winged insects. Testing this assumption requires comparisons of wing development in Drosophila and other winged insects. Here we review data that bear on this assumption, including new data on the functions of wingless and decapentaplegic during appendage allocation in the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum.

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