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Ever since Darwin: why plants are important for evo-devo research


Rutishauser, Rolf (2019). Ever since Darwin: why plants are important for evo-devo research. In: Fusco, Giuseppe. Perspectives on evolutionary and developmental biology: essays for Alessandro Minelli. Padova: Padova University Press, 41-55.

Abstract

In this essay, I provide examples of: (i) the presence of fractal properties and a continuum of forms in living organisms; (ii) the potential contributions of plant evo-devo towards a general theory of development encompassing various multicellular organisms; (iii) the “arrival” of a wealth of forms in plants that cannot be explained by natural selection alone. As elucidated by evo-devo studies, evolutionary diversification is also due to, e.g., (epi)genetics, correlation, phenotypic integration, self-organization, and physical constraints. Four kinds of phyllotaxis patterns in vascular plants – from Fibonacci systems with divergence angles around 137.5° to spiral systems with divergence angles below 80° – are described and illustrated: Cycas (gymnosperm), Huperzia (clubmoss), Pandanus (screw palm), and Costus (corkscrew ginger). They serve as examples of morphogenetic variation in plants that call for evo-devo explanations beyond (or prior to) the “survival of the fittest”. Charles Darwin was already convinced that natural selection had not been the only driving force in evolution.

Abstract

In this essay, I provide examples of: (i) the presence of fractal properties and a continuum of forms in living organisms; (ii) the potential contributions of plant evo-devo towards a general theory of development encompassing various multicellular organisms; (iii) the “arrival” of a wealth of forms in plants that cannot be explained by natural selection alone. As elucidated by evo-devo studies, evolutionary diversification is also due to, e.g., (epi)genetics, correlation, phenotypic integration, self-organization, and physical constraints. Four kinds of phyllotaxis patterns in vascular plants – from Fibonacci systems with divergence angles around 137.5° to spiral systems with divergence angles below 80° – are described and illustrated: Cycas (gymnosperm), Huperzia (clubmoss), Pandanus (screw palm), and Costus (corkscrew ginger). They serve as examples of morphogenetic variation in plants that call for evo-devo explanations beyond (or prior to) the “survival of the fittest”. Charles Darwin was already convinced that natural selection had not been the only driving force in evolution.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, not_refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Language:English
Date:2019
Deposited On:04 Apr 2019 10:07
Last Modified:27 Feb 2020 14:07
Publisher:Padova University Press
ISBN:978-88-6938-140-9
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:https://www.padovauniversitypress.it/system/files/attachments_field/9788869381409-oa.pdf
Related URLs:http://www.padovauniversitypress.it/publications/9788869381409 (Publisher)

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