The evolution of hierarchical gene regulatory networks

Nat Rev Genet. 2009 Feb;10(2):141-8. doi: 10.1038/nrg2499. Epub 2009 Jan 13.


Comparative developmental evidence indicates that reorganizations in developmental gene regulatory networks (GRNs) underlie evolutionary changes in animal morphology, including body plans. We argue here that the nature of the evolutionary alterations that arise from regulatory changes depends on the hierarchical position of the change within a GRN. This concept cannot be accomodated by microevolutionary nor macroevolutionary theory. It will soon be possible to investigate these ideas experimentally, by assessing the effects of GRN changes on morphological evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / genetics*
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Morphogenesis / genetics*