Heterochrony: Developmental mechanisms and evolutionary results

  • Raff R
  • Wray G
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The concept of heterochrony, that the relative timing of ontogenetic events can shift during evolution, has been a major paradigm for understanding the role of developmental processes in evolution. In this paper we consider heterochrony from the perspective of developmental biology. Our objective is to redefine heterochrony more broadly so that the concept becomes readily applicable to the evolution of the full range of ontogenetic processes, from embryogenesis through the adult. Throughout, we stress the importance of considering heterochrony from a hierarchi-cal perspective. Thus, we recognize that a heterochronic change at one level of organization may be the result of non-heterochronic events at an underlying level. As such, heterochrony must be studied using a combination of genetic, molecular, cellular, and morphological approaches.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Heterochrony
  • developmental sequence
  • evolution of development

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  • Rudolf A. Raff

  • Gregory A. Wray

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