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Larsen Ellen | Fellow Visitor
2004-09-01 - 2004-09-16 | Research area: EvoDevo
Synthesizing a Distinctive Evolutionary Developmental Biology Perspective
It has taken a century for biologists to return, in a concerted way, to examining the developmental underpinnings of evolution. In the intervening century new "ways of knowing" have emerged in terms of disciplines and technological capabilities. If the resynthesis of development and evolution is to be more than a passing fad, a dialogue must establish the questions and types of disciplinary integration that make the evo-devo enterprise a distinct field rather than a loose amalgamation of approaches ranging from paleontology to genomics. I propose to contribute to the dialogue by identifying a set of goals of evolutionary developmental biology and the questions they engender. I will start from the premise that developmental biology is about coordination at molecular, cellular, tissue and organ levels of organisation. Evolution is then seen as the history of changes in coordination. I will use "morphogenesis" as the vanatage point from which to examine the kinds of questions and contributions of different disciplines to understanding the evolution of development. To accomplish this I will review current literature and older literature in light of the proposed goals of evolutionary developmental biology and consider the concepts and tools available. This work should identify potential conceptual and technological gaps as well as requirements for training of future generations of evolutionary developmental biologists.