About this Research Topic
The ability to produce mineralized extracellular matrices has been instrumental for the emergence of diverse animal skeletal structures involved in protection, feeding, locomotion, body support, gravity sensing, light transmission, reproduction, and mineral reserves. Biomineralization has evolved multiple times in animal phyla as exemplified, for instance, by the presence of silica spicules in glass sponges, of calcium carbonate skeletons in echinoderms, mollusks, bryozoans and corals, and of calcium phosphate skeletons in chordates, arthropods, and some brachiopods.
From a deep evolutionary scale, it is fundamental to understand the genetic underpinning of the emergence of biomineralization. To reach this goal, we need to unravel the nature of the biomineralization molecular toolkit deployed both between distantly related animal phyla that have independently evolved skeletonized parts as well as between homologous mineralized tissues from species belonging to the same phylum. This aspect is intimately linked to the problem of the evolution of new cell types and of the divergence of gene regulatory networks. In particular, it will be fundamental to improve our understanding of how mineralized tissues have diversified in specific lineages, giving rise, for instance, to nacre and prismatic layer in mollusks and to the bone, dentine, and enamel in vertebrates. On the other hand, skeletonized parts offer an impressive amount of biological variation with respect to their size, shape, mechanical properties, and even colored patterns. Hence, the field offers a fantastic opportunity to examine how developmental changes drive divergent phenotypes between closely related species.
This Research Topic aims to tackle the problem of the evolution of metazoan biomineralization by focusing on the ancient origin of skeletal structures as well as on their diversification in specific taxonomic groups. We encourage potential contributors to submit evolutionary studies adopting a broad array of approaches, including phylogenetics, genetics, genomics, material mechanics, biochemistry, development, EvoDevo, ecology, and paleontology. The Topic accepts the following types of manuscripts: original research, brief research report, hypothesis and theory, review, mini review, and perspective.
Keywords: Biomineralization, Metazoan, Evolution, Development, Genetic toolkit
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