The molecular evolution of development

Bioessays. 1998 Sep;20(9):700-11. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1521-1878(199809)20:9<700::AID-BIES3>3.0.CO;2-K.


Morphological differences between species, from simple single-character differences to large-scale variation in body plans, can be traced to changes in the timing and location of developmental events. This has led to a growing interest in understanding the genetic basis behind the evolution of developmental systems. Molecular evolutionary genetics provides one of several approaches to dissecting the evolution of developmental systems, by allowing us to reconstruct the history of developmental genetic pathways, infer the origin and diversification of developmental gene functions, and assess the relative contributions of various evolutionary forces in shaping regulatory gene evolution.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animal Population Groups / embryology
  • Animal Population Groups / genetics
  • Animal Population Groups / growth & development
  • Animals
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Genes, Homeobox
  • Growth / genetics*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology
  • Morphogenesis / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Species Specificity


  • Homeodomain Proteins