The development of powerful model systems has been a critical strategy for understanding the mechanisms underlying the progression of an animal through its ontogeny. Here we provide two examples that allow deep and mechanistic insight into the development of specific animal systems. Species of the cnidarian genus Hydra have provided excellent models for studying host-microbe interactions and how metaorganisms function in vivo. Studies of the Hawaiian bobtail squid Euprymna scolopes and its luminous bacterial partner Vibrio fischeri have been used for over 30 years to understand the impact of a broad array of levels, from ecology to genomics, on the development and persistence of symbiosis. These examples provide an integrated perspective of how developmental processes work and evolve within the context of a microbial world, a new view that opens vast horizons for developmental biology research. The Hydra and the squid systems also lend an example of how profound insights can be discovered by taking advantage of the "experiments" that evolution had done in shaping conserved developmental processes.
Keywords: Epithelial-bacterial interactions; Evo devo; Holobiont; Hydra; Squid-vibrio; Symbiosis.
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