Segmentation in Tardigrada and diversification of segmental patterns in Panarthropoda

Arthropod Struct Dev. 2017 May;46(3):328-340. doi: 10.1016/j.asd.2016.10.005. Epub 2016 Nov 1.


The origin and diversification of segmented metazoan body plans has fascinated biologists for over a century. The superphylum Panarthropoda includes three phyla of segmented animals-Euarthropoda, Onychophora, and Tardigrada. This superphylum includes representatives with relatively simple and representatives with relatively complex segmented body plans. At one extreme of this continuum, euarthropods exhibit an incredible diversity of serially homologous segments. Furthermore, distinct tagmosis patterns are exhibited by different classes of euarthropods. At the other extreme, all tardigrades share a simple segmented body plan that consists of a head and four leg-bearing segments. The modular body plans of panarthropods make them a tractable model for understanding diversification of animal body plans more generally. Here we review results of recent morphological and developmental studies of tardigrade segmentation. These results complement investigations of segmentation processes in other panarthropods and paleontological studies to illuminate the earliest steps in the evolution of panarthropod body plans.

Keywords: Evo-devo; Homology; Hox genes; Hypsibius dujardini.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthropods / anatomy & histology*
  • Biodiversity
  • Biological Evolution
  • Body Patterning* / physiology
  • Tardigrada / anatomy & histology*