By MANFRED D. LAUBICHLER, JANE MAIENSCHEIN
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Extra info for Formand Functionin Developmental Evolution
Most are highly derived and specialized, and thus not suited to addressing major phenotypic transformations or any of the other questions that are being asked in Evo Devo with respect to form and function. It is by now widely accepted that addressing these problems requires new model systems. The emphasis on genetic approaches, for instance, contributed to the diminished role of sea urchins in midtwentieth-century developmental biology. Today, sea urchins are again being used, largely because new methods of molecular biology have allowed the purple sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, to become the paradigmatic model for the study of gene regulatory networks (Davidson 2006b; Davidson et al.
Independent of the ﬁnal verdict on recapitulation, the emphasis on embryological data as part of explanations of adult forms proved to be very productive indeed, and became a major methodological and causal factor in reconstructions of phylogeny after Darwin’s convincing argument for evolution (Gould 1977; Laubichler and Maienschein 2007a). A lot is known about the many sources that contributed to Darwin’s eventual formulation of the theory of descent. These studies have made it abundantly clear that embryology played a major role in Darwin’s arguments, both as evidence for the relatedness of different taxa, and as a mechanism that helps us to understand the patterns of existing phenotypic variation (the laws governing organic forms), as well the origin of new variants (the big challenge for his theory).
These suggestions, proposed in the course of the last century, thus represent several earlier attempts at what we now call Evo Devo. Several proposals involve a broader conception of the gene than that which has dominated twentieth-century evolutionary biology. Among Evo Devo: historical and conceptual reﬂections 17 these, the school of developmental physiological genetics, which includes among others Richard Goldschmidt and Alfred Kühn, emphasized the developmental role of genes (Laubichler and Maienschein 2007b; Laubichler and Rheinberger 2004).