J Syst Evol ›› 2010, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (2): 94-101.DOI: 10.1111/j.1759-6831.2010.00066.x

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Functional evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) of morphological novelties in plants

Ji-Si ZHANG Ying TIAN Li WANG Chao-Ying HE*   

  1. (State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China)
  • Received:2009-08-01 Published:2010-03-02

Abstract: Origin of the morphological and ecological novelties is a long-standing problem in evolutionary biology. Understanding these processes requires investigation from both development and evolution, which promotes a new research field called evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo). The fundamental mechanism for the origin of a novel structure may involve heterotopy, heterochrony, ectopic expression or loss of an existing regulatory factor. Accordingly, the morphological and ecological traits controlled by the regulatory genes may be gained, lost, and regained during evolution. Floral morphological novelties, for example, include homeotic alterations (related to organ identity), symmetric diversity and change in size and morphology of the floral organs. These gain and loss can potentially arise through modification of the existing regulatory networks. Here we review current knowledge concerning the origin of novel floral structures, such as “evolutionary homeotic mutated flowers”, floral symmetry in various plant species and inflated calyx syndrome (ICS) within Solanaceae. Functional evo-devo of the morphological novelties is a central theme of plant evolutionary biology. In addition, the discussion is extended to consider agronomic or domestication-related traits, including type, size and morphology of fruits (berries) within Solanaceae.

Key words: functional evo-devo, heterochrony, heterotopy, morphological novelty, biodiversity, development, evolution.