Origination of Organismal Form

Beyond the Gene in Developmental and Evolutionary Biology

The field of evolutionary biology arose from the desire to understand the origin and diversity of biological forms. In recent years, however, evolutionary genetics, with its focus on the modification and inheritance of presumed genetic programs, has all but overwhelmed other aspects of evolutionary biology. This has led to the neglect of the study of the generative origins of biological form.

Drawing on work from developmental biology, paleontology, developmental and population genetics, cancer research, physics, and theoretical biology, this book explores the multiple factors responsible for the origination of biological form. It examines the essential problems of morphological evolution—why, for example, the basic body plans of nearly all metazoans arose within a relatively short time span, why similar morphological design motifs appear in phylogenetically independent lineages, and how new structural elements are added to the body plan of a given phylogenetic lineage. It also examines discordances between genetic and phenotypic change, the physical determinants of morphogenesis, and the role of epigenetic processes in evolution. The book discusses these and other topics within the framework of evolutionary developmental biology, a new research agenda that concerns the interaction of development and evolution in the generation of biological form. By placing epigenetic processes, rather than gene sequence and gene expression changes, at the center of morphological origination, this book points the way to a more comprehensive theory of evolution.

Table of Contents

  1. Series Forward
  2. Preface
  3. I. Introduction

  4. 1. Origination of Organismal Form: The Forgotten Cause in Evolutionary Theory

    Gerd B. Müller and Stuart A. Newman

  5. II. Problems of Morphological Evolution
  6. 2. The Cambrian "Explosion" of Metazoans

    Simon Conway Morris

  7. 3. Convergence and Homoplasy in the Evolution of Organismal Form

    Pat Willmer

  8. 4. Homology: The Evolution of Morphological Organization

    Gerd B. Müller

  9. III. Relationships Between Genes and Form
  10. 5. Only Details Determine

    Roy J. Britten

  11. 6. The Reactive Genome

    Scott F. Gilbert

  12. 7. Tissue Specificity: Structural Cues Allow Diverse Phenotypes from a Constant Genotype

    Mina J. Bissell, I. Saira Mian, Derek Readisky, and Eva Turley

  13. 8. Genes, Cell Behavior, and the Evolution of Form

    Ellen Larsen

  14. IV. Physical Determinants of Morphogenesis
  15. 9. Cell Adhesive Interactions and Tissue Self-Organization

    Malcom Steinberg

  16. 10. Gradients, Diffusion, and Genes in Pattern Formation

    H. Frederik Nijhout

  17. 10. A Biochemical Oscillator Linked to Vertebrate Segmentation

    Oliver Pourquié

  18. 12. Organization through Intra-Inter Dynamics

    Kunihiko Kaneko

  19. 13. From Physics to Development: The Evolution of Morphogenetic Mechanisms

    Stuart A. Newman

  20. V. Origination and Evolvability
  21. 14. Phenotypic Plasticity and Evolution by Genetic Assimilation

    Vidyanand Nanjundiah

  22. 15. Genetic and Epigenetic Factors in the Origin of the Tetrapod Limb

    Gunter P. Wagner and Chi-hua Chiu

  23. 16. Epigenesis and Evolution of Brains: From Embryonic Divisions to Functional Systems

    Georg F. Striedter

  24. 17. Boundary Constraints for the Emergence of Form

    Diego Rasskin-Gutman

  25. Contributors
  26. Index