2024 article

The role of heterochronic gene expression and regulatory architecture in early developmental divergence

Harry, N. D., & Zakas, C. (2024, January 19).

By: N. Harry n & C. Zakas n

Source: ORCID
Added: January 28, 2024

New developmental programs can evolve through adaptive changes to gene expression. The annelid S. benedicti has a developmental dimorphism, which provides a unique intraspecific framework for understanding the earliest genetic changes that take place during developmental divergence. Using comparative RNAseq through ontogeny, we find that only a small proportion of genes are differentially expressed at any time, despite major differences in larval development and life-history. These genes shift expression profiles across morphs by either turning off any expression in one morph or changing the timing or amount of gene expression. We directly connect the contributions of these mechanisms to differences in developmental processes. We examine F 1 offspring— using reciprocal crosses— to determine maternal mRNA inheritance and the regulatory architecture of gene expression. These results highlight the importance of both novel gene expression and heterochronic shifts in developmental evolution, as well as the trans -acting regulatory factors in initiating divergence.