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Open AccessArticle

Quantifying Mosaic Development: Towards an Evo-Devo Postmodern Synthesis of the Evolution of Development via Differentiation Trees of Embryos

by Bradly Alicea 1,2,* and Richard Gordon 3,4
1
Orthogonal Research, 1408 Rosewood Drive, Champaign, IL 61821, USA
2
OpenWorm Foundation, Cyberspace, San Diego, CA 92110, USA
3
Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, 222 Clark Drive, Panacea, FL 32346, USA
4
C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth & Development, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Wayne State University, 275 E. Hancock, Detroit, MI 48201, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: John S. Torday
Biology 2016, 5(3), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology5030033
Received: 3 April 2016 / Revised: 4 July 2016 / Accepted: 9 August 2016 / Published: 18 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Beyond the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis- what have we missed?)
Embryonic development proceeds through a series of differentiation events. The mosaic version of this process (binary cell divisions) can be analyzed by comparing early development of Ciona intestinalis and Caenorhabditis elegans. To do this, we reorganize lineage trees into differentiation trees using the graph theory ordering of relative cell volume. Lineage and differentiation trees provide us with means to classify each cell using binary codes. Extracting data characterizing lineage tree position, cell volume, and nucleus position for each cell during early embryogenesis, we conduct several statistical analyses, both within and between taxa. We compare both cell volume distributions and cell volume across developmental time within and between single species and assess differences between lineage tree and differentiation tree orderings. This enhances our understanding of the differentiation events in a model of pure mosaic embryogenesis and its relationship to evolutionary conservation. We also contribute several new techniques for assessing both differences between lineage trees and differentiation trees, and differences between differentiation trees of different species. The results suggest that at the level of differentiation trees, there are broad similarities between distantly related mosaic embryos that might be essential to understanding evolutionary change and phylogeny reconstruction. Differentiation trees may therefore provide a basis for an Evo-Devo Postmodern Synthesis. View Full-Text
Keywords: developmental biology; computational biology; lineage trees; embryogenesis; biological complexity developmental biology; computational biology; lineage trees; embryogenesis; biological complexity
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Alicea, B.; Gordon, R. Quantifying Mosaic Development: Towards an Evo-Devo Postmodern Synthesis of the Evolution of Development via Differentiation Trees of Embryos. Biology 2016, 5, 33.

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