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The Dynamic GenomeA Darwinian Approach$
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Antonio Fontdevila

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199541379

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541379.001.0001

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The unity of type: ancient homologies in the genome

The unity of type: ancient homologies in the genome

(p.32) Chapter 2 The unity of type: ancient homologies in the genome
The Dynamic Genome

Antonio Fontdevila

Oxford University Press

The controversy on the ‘unity of type’, exploited as an antievolutionist argument and based on the difficulty of revealing ancient homologies, is introduced using a historical approach. First the work of the earlier anatomists is explained. Then, the discovery of homeosis and the lessons from homeotic flies follow and serve to introduce the hox genes and their importance in the discovery of ancient homologies through to-date comparative genomics. These ancient genes allow us to establish homologies among body plans and solve the common ancestor controversy. They also explain why the evolution of form is a process of descent with modification similar to that observed in other characters that influence differential reproduction in populations, as some examples of morphological evolution from fishes and insects illustrate. This chapter gives reasons to oppose the tenet that developmental constraints in gene regulatory networks are the principal explanation for the evolution of form.

Keywords:   homeosis, hox genes, homology, comparative genomics, body plan, developmental constraints, gene regulatory network

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