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Perspectives in Animal Phylogeny and Evolution$
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Alessandro Minelli

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780198566205

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198566205.001.0001

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The life cycle and its evolution

The life cycle and its evolution

(p.110) Chapter 7 The life cycle and its evolution
Perspectives in Animal Phylogeny and Evolution

Alessandro Minelli

Oxford University Press

To some extent, the evolution of multicellular organisms such as metazoans is the evolution of their cells, whose prototypical characters are frequently abandoned, as with syncytia or as a consequence of apoptosis. To explain the evolution of growth, cell differentiation, and morphogenesis, an adequate framework is provided by the intrinsic logic of these developmental processes which proceed, whenever challenged, according a principle of developmental inertia. Cell-cell competition can explain the origin of gametes, set-aside cells and germ layers, and the occurrence of morphostatic processes. Alternative views of the evolution of life histories regard either the whole life cycle or the individual developmental stages as legitimate units of evolution, but the latter views face difficulties with intrinsic problems of periodization of development. Animal larval types are surveyed, with a discussion of primary versus secondary origins of larvae and metamorphosis. The last section of the chapter deals with the role of genes in animal development.

Keywords:   cell, developmental gene, developmental inertia, gamete, germ layer, larva, life cycle, morphostasis, set-aside cells

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