Meeting Abstract

S5.7  Jan. 5  The developmental basis of body plan organization in the Eumetazoa MARTINDALE, Mark Q.; Univ. Hawaii

Recent work is beginning to provide more confidence in our ability to understand the true phylogenetic relationship between extant animal groups. This provides opportunities to hypothesize about how morphological transitions might have occurred during early animal evolution. Because adult animals arises via a process of embryogenesis it seems likely that an understanding of these morphological transitions should be approachable by studying changes in the development of phylogenetically relevant forms. Our lab has been studying the cellular and molecular origins of axial organization and germ layer formation during the development of representative cnidarians (sea anemones, corals and cubozoans), ctenophores, and acoel flatworms. I will attempt to summarize recent progress from our lab from experimental embryological analyses of egg organization to the conservation of gene regulatory networks, and the organization of nervous systems that may be relevant to discussions on the origins of animal complexity and the origin and diversification of bilaterally symmetrical, triploblastic animals.