The deuterostome context of chordate origins

Nature. 2015 Apr 23;520(7548):456-65. doi: 10.1038/nature14434.


Our understanding of vertebrate origins is powerfully informed by comparative morphology, embryology and genomics of chordates, hemichordates and echinoderms, which together make up the deuterostome clade. Striking body-plan differences among these phyla have historically hindered the identification of ancestral morphological features, but recent progress in molecular genetics and embryology has revealed deep similarities in body-axis formation and organization across deuterostomes, at stages before morphological differences develop. These developmental genetic features, along with robust support of pharyngeal gill slits as a shared deuterostome character, provide the foundation for the emergence of chordates.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning
  • Chordata / anatomy & histology*
  • Chordata / classification
  • Chordata / embryology*
  • Endoderm / embryology
  • Gills / anatomy & histology
  • Gills / embryology
  • Mesoderm / embryology
  • Phylogeny*