Much of developmental biology in the past decades has been driven by forward genetic studies in a few model organisms. We review recent work with relatives of these species, motivated by a desire to understand the evolutionary and ecological context for morphological innovation. Unfortunately, despite a number of shining examples, progress in nonmodel systems has often been slow. The current revolution in DNA sequencing has, however, enormous potential in extending the reach of genetics. We discuss how developmental biology will benefit from these advances, particularly by increasing the universe of study species.
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