Evolutionary Developmental Biology

Course Aim

To introduce basic concepts of Evo-Devo that are essential to understand the diversity of animal body plans.

Course Description

Learn about the most recent theory and techniques in evolutionary and developmental biology with an emphasis on the underlying molecular genomics. Trace the history of animal body plans, and consider the genetic toolkits responsible for this evolution. Examine recent advances in decoding the genomes of various animals, plants and microbes. Through class presentations, critically analyze research in developmental biology and present findings on topics such as comparative genomics, the evolution of transcription factors and signal transduction molecules and their relation to the evolution and diversification of the various complex body plans present through history.

Course Contents

1 Introduction (background, general concepts, etc)
2 History of animals (fossil records, phylogenic tree)
3 History of animals (genomics, molecular phylogeny)
4 Genetic toolkits (developmental concepts)
5 Genetic toolkits (Hox complex)
6 Genetic toolkits (genetic toolkits, animal design)
7 Building animals (lower metazoans)
8 Building animals (protostomes)
9 Building animals (deuterostome and vertebrates)
10 Evolution of toolkits (gene families)
11 Diversification of body plans (body axis)
12 Diversification of body plans (conserved and derived body plans)
13 Evolution of morphological novelties
14 Species diversification
15 Phylum diversification


Homework (20%), Written reports (4 x 20%).

Prerequisites or Prior Knowledge



From DNA to Diversity, 2 edn, by Carroll, Grenier and Weatherbee (2005) Blackwell.