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, 138 (11), 2143-52

Evolutionary Crossroads in Developmental Biology: The Tunicates

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Evolutionary Crossroads in Developmental Biology: The Tunicates

Patrick Lemaire. Development.

Abstract

The tunicates, or urochordates, constitute a large group of marine animals whose recent common ancestry with vertebrates is reflected in the tadpole-like larvae of most tunicates. Their diversity and key phylogenetic position are enhanced, from a research viewpoint, by anatomically simple and transparent embryos, compact rapidly evolving genomes, and the availability of powerful experimental and computational tools with which to study these organisms. Tunicates are thus a powerful system for exploring chordate evolution and how extreme variation in genome sequence and gene regulatory network architecture is compatible with the preservation of an ancestral chordate body plan.

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