Evolution of animal body plans as inferred by developmental biology, morphology, molecular phylogeny, and palaeontology

Multicellular animals have evolved an impressive variety of forms or body plans. The evolutionary and developmental processes causing and determining this diversity remain largely unknown and present one of the great challenges in evolutionary biology. Based on recent molecular, morphological, developmental, and palaeontological data, the phylogenetic interrelationships of the major metazoan lineages are currently controversially discussed. In particular, the early evolution of the Bilateria, the largest and most diverse metazoan clade, is far from being settled. Seemingly well established taxa such as Platyhelminthes (flatworms) and Articulata (arthropods and annelids) are challenged and new clades such as Ecdysozoa (arthropods and nemathelminths) and Lophotrochozoa (spiralians and tentaculates) are suggested. These different views on bilaterian interrelationships greatly influence our interpretation of body plan evolution and lead to very different evolutionary scenarios. On the other hand, data on the development and expression of body plans strongly contribute to the phylogenetic reconstruction. This complex situation requires an integrated scientific approach. Accordingly, the expertise of the scientists involved offers a combined approach of all levels of biological organization from genes via cell lineages up to morphology and palaeontology to addressing the problems of metazoan relationships and body plan evolution.

Principal investigators
Scholtz, Gerhard Prof. Dr. rer. nat. (Details) (Comparative Zoology)

Europäische Union (EU) - HU als Beteiligte

Duration of project
Start date: 11/2005
End date: 02/2010

Last updated on 2022-07-09 at 23:09