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(Non)Parallel developmental pathways to vertebrate appendage reduction
  • Samantha Swank,
  • Thomas Sanger,
  • Yoel Stuart
Samantha Swank
Loyola University Chicago
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Thomas Sanger
Loyola University Chicago
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Yoel Stuart
Loyola University Chicago
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Appendages have been reduced or lost hundreds of times independently during vertebrate evolution. This suggests that selection routinely favors appendage reduction. How often are the same developmental and genetic pathways used during loss by independent lineages? We reviewed the developmental and evolutionary literatures of appendage reduction in 12 genera spanning fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals. We found that appendage reduction and loss resulted from modified gene expression in each case but one. However, the genes for which expression was modified were rarely shared. Our findings suggest that adaptive loss of complex traits might proceed relatively easily through changes in gene expression along multiple developmental pathways.

Peer review status:UNDER REVIEW

10 May 2021Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
11 May 2021Assigned to Editor
11 May 2021Submission Checks Completed
18 May 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
05 Jun 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending