Developmental Plasticity And Developmental Symbiosis: The Return Of Eco-Devo

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

Essays On Developmental Biology: Part A


Ecological developmental biology is the study of the interactions between developing organisms and their environments. Organisms have evolved to use the environment as a source of important cues that can alter the trajectory of their development. First, developmental plasticity enables the genome to generate a repertoire of possible phenotypes, and environmental cues are often used to select the phenotype that appears most adaptive at that time. This facilitates evolutionary strategies such as phenotypic accommodation, genetic assimilation, and niche construction. Second, developmental symbiosis, wherein the developing animal utilizes cues from other organisms for normal cell differentiation and morphogenesis, has been found to be ubiquitous. The coevolution of symbiotic microbes and animal cells has often led to the dependency of an animal's development on particular microbial signals, making these cues essential and expected components of normal development.


Eco-devo, Plasticity, Symbiosis, History

Published By

Academic Press


P. M. Wassarman

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