Conservation and innovation in spiralian development

Jonathan Joseph Henry, Mark Q. Martindale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is clear that the spiralian developmental program represents a highly flexible platform for the generation of diverse larval and adult body plans. The widespread occurrence of this pattern of early development attests to its tremendous evolutionary success. Despite the large degree of conservation in the spiral cleavage pattern and other basic aspects of early development, changes in cell fate maps and in the mechanisms of blastomere specification have arisen. While we have learned a great deal about this mode of development, a number of important questions remain to be answered. To what extent do these conditions apply to the lesser studied spiralian phyla? What constraints have led to the preservation of the early spiral cleavage program? How has this developmental program been adapted for the construction of the various spiralian body plans (e.g. the segmental body plans of annelids or to the potential secondary loss of segmentation)? Are most changes associated with the elaboration of these different larval and adult body plans restricted to the late period of development? What molecular/genetic processes underlie this developmental program? Clearly, the spiralian phyla represent an important group of organisms for further studies on development and evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-265
Number of pages11
StatePublished - May 15 1999


  • Cell lineage
  • Evolution
  • Spiral cleavage
  • Spiralia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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