S8: Developmental complexity and diversity in animals and plants, parallels and differences
Plants and animals evolved complex patterned multicellular bodyplans independently. Clearly, there are fundamental differences between animals and plants. While plants contain cell walls that tie cells permanently to the same neighboring cells, in animal development cells are capable of moving relative to one another. Another fundamental difference is that in most animal development is limited to the embryonic life stages, while most plant development occurs postembryonically. Finally, plants are sessile and animals mobile organisms, resulting in highly different strategies of coping with environmental conditions. Together, these differences impose highly divergent selective pressures on developmental patterns and their underlying mechanisms in plants and animals. Still, in recent years discoveries have been made that suggest striking similarities between certain aspects of animal and plant developmental patterning. For instance, it was recently shown that the polar growth of the main root in plants is controlled by a similar type of degradation driven morphogen gradient mechanism as posterior growth in vertebrates. In this symposium we will focus on the evolution of developmental patterning mechanisms in animals and plants, explicitly considering their similarities and differences, and how this can be related to parallels and divergences in selection and constraints.
Kirsten ten Tusscher, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands