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Lyons, DC, Martindale MQ, Srivastava M.  2014.  The cell's view of animal body-plan evolution. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 54:658-666.   10.1093/icb/icu108   AbstractWebsite

An adult animal's form is shaped by the collective behavior of cells during embryonic development. To understand the forces that drove the divergence of animal body-plans, evolutionary developmental biology has focused largely on studying genetic networks operating during development. However, it is less well understood how these networks modulate characteristics at the cellular level, such as the shape, polarity, or migration of cells. We organized the "Cell's view of animal body plan evolution" symposium for the 2014 The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology meeting with the explicit goal of bringing together researchers studying the cell biology of embryonic development in diverse animal taxa. Using a broad range of established and emerging technologies, including live imaging, single-cell analysis, and mathematical modeling, symposium participants revealed mechanisms underlying cells' behavior, a few of which we highlight here. Shape, adhesion, and movements of cells can be modulated over the course of evolution to alter adult body-plans and a major theme explored during the symposium was the role of actomyosin in coordinating diverse behaviors of cells underlying morphogenesis in a myriad of contexts. Uncovering whether conserved or divergent genetic mechanisms guide the contractility of actomyosin in these systems will be crucial to understanding the evolution of the body-plans of animals from a cellular perspective. Many speakers presented research describing developmental phenomena in which cell division and tissue growth can control the form of the adult, and other presenters shared work on studying cell-fate specification, an important source of novelty in animal body-plans. Participants also presented studies of regeneration in annelids, flatworms, acoels, and cnidarians, and provided a unifying view of the regulation of cellular behavior during different life-history stages. Additionally, several presentations highlighted technological advances that glean mechanistic insights from new and emerging model systems, thereby providing the phylogenetic breadth so essential for studying animal evolution. Thus, we propose that an explicit study of cellular phenomena is now possible for a wide range of taxa, and that it will be highly informative for understanding the evolution of animal body-plans.

Lyons, DC, Perry KJ, Lesoway MP, Henry JQ.  2012.  Cleavage pattern and fate map of the mesentoblast, 4d, in the gastropod Crepidula: a hallmark of spiralian development. Evodevo. 3   10.1186/2041-9139-3-21   AbstractWebsite

Background: Animals with a spiral cleavage program, such as mollusks and annelids, make up the majority of the superphylum Lophotrochozoa. The great diversity of larval and adult body plans in this group emerges from this highly conserved developmental program. The 4d micromere is one of the most conserved aspects of spiralian development. Unlike the preceding pattern of spiral divisions, cleavages within the 4d teloblastic sublineages are bilateral, representing a critical transition towards constructing the bilaterian body plan. These cells give rise to the visceral mesoderm in virtually all spiralians examined and in many species they also contribute to the endodermal intestine. Hence, the 4d lineage is an ideal one for studying the evolution and diversification of the bipotential endomesodermal germ layer in protostomes at the level of individual cells. Little is known of how division patterns are controlled or how mesodermal and endodermal sublineages diverge in spiralians. Detailed modern fate maps for 4d exist in only a few species of clitellate annelids, specifically in glossiphoniid leeches and the sludge worm Tubifex. We investigated the 4d lineage in the gastropod Crepidula fornicata, an established model system for spiralian biology, and in a closely related direct-developing species, C. convexa. Results: High-resolution cell lineage tracing techniques were used to study the 4d lineage of C. fornicata and C. convexa. We present a new nomenclature to name the progeny of 4d, and report the fate map for the sublineages up through the birth of the first five pairs of teloblast daughter cells (when 28 cells are present in the 4d sublineage), and describe each clone's behavior during gastrulation and later stages as these undergo differentiation. We identify the precise origin of the intestine, two cells of the larval kidney complex, the larval retractor muscles and the presumptive germ cells, among others. Other tissues that arise later in the 4d lineage include the adult heart, internal foot tissues, and additional muscle and mesenchymal cells derived from later-born progeny of the left and right teloblasts. To test whether other cells can compensate for the loss of these tissues (that is, undergo regulation), specific cells were ablated in C. fornicata. Conclusions: Our results present the first fate map of the 4d micromere sublineages in a mollusk. The fate map reveals that endodermal and mesodermal fates segregate much later than previously thought. We observed little evidence of regulation between sublineages, consistent with a lineage-driven cell specification process. Our results provide a framework for comparisons with other spiralians and lay the groundwork for investigation of the molecular mechanisms of endomesoderm formation, germ line segregation and bilateral differentiation in Crepidula.