About this Research Topic
Adult morphology is defined during embryonic and postembryonic development, and morphological diversification is a result of changes in developmental programs. Different developmental strategies have evolved in different animal and plant groups. In direct developing organisms, most selective regimes are likely to act on embryonic development to shape the morphology and behavior of the adult. In contrast, different selective regimes may act on different life stages in organisms that undergo metamorphosis or grow throughout the entire life. Many organisms have evolved the capability to regenerate the entire body or organs. Since regeneration requires the re-establishment of developmental programs, it is a special form of postembryonic development that evolution can act on.
While research on embryonic development has been contributing significantly to our current understanding of the diversification of developmental programs, the contribution of postembryonic development remains rather enigmatic. This is in part due to technical limitations because postembryonic stages are often less well accessible for developmental studies. Recent advances in sequencing (e.g. transcriptomics, genomics) and genetic engineering (e.g. CRISPR/Cas9, RNAi) technologies allow going beyond well-established model organisms to enhance our understanding of how biological diversity is generated. Major innovations in imaging technologies (e.g. micro-CT, serial block-face SEM) and mathematical frameworks (e.g. Geometric Morphometrics) to describe complex morphological features further enable researchers to study postembryonic developmental processes on a mechanistic and quantitative level.
This Research Topic on “Evolution of Postembryonic Development” will contribute primary data papers, perspectives and reviews focussing on the impact of postembryonic development on the diversification of adult morphology on a macro- and microevolutionary scale. Articles may involve one or more of the following topics:
• Comparative transcriptomics and genomics aiming at understanding variation in postembryonic/regeneration processes
• Quantitative genetics approaches aiming at revealing the genetic architecture of differences in postembryonic development
• Comparative functional manipulations of postembryonic developmental processes using genome editing, RNAi or genetic experiments
• Application of Imaging Technologies and/or geometric morphometrics to quantitatively compare complex morphological traits throughout development and regeneration
• Identification of evolutionary and ecological forces driving diversification of postembryonic development
Keywords: Evolution and Development, Postembryonic Development, Comparative Genomics and Transcriptomics, Genetics, Imaging and Geometric Morphometrics
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.