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Session Schedule & Abstracts

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Wednesday 29th June, 2016

Symposium: Major challenges for vertebrate morphology, evolution and development 1

Room: Salon E   2:30 pm–4:00 pm

Moderator(s): J. M. Hoyos & R. Diogo
CHA1-1  2:30 pm  An historical introduction to the major challenges in vertebrate morphology. Hoyos JM *, Departamento de Biología, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
Abstract: "The best way to claim the value of the morphology is based on its history, where you can view its objectives, its applications and its projections" (Nyhart, 1994). This phrase is the basis of the presentation of the great challenges of the morphology for the coming years, taking into account, above all, the courage to recognize the morphology as a research program (or orientation, according Nyhart) from its "foundation" as such by J W Goethe. My inspiration to propose these challenges was David Gilbert (1862-1943), a German mathematician who proposed a list of 23 unsolved problems in the International Congress of Mathematicians in Paris in 1900, many of which have yet to be fully resolved or remain without any response. From the discussion of concepts such as the Platonic archetype by Kant and Owen in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there have been throughout the history different challenges from the moment that the morphology became independent of physiology, back at the beginning of the 19th century in Germany. We should focus on some of those who have been appearing and have demonstrated that require our attention, without neglecting, of course, other related activities to feed these challenges. Some that have identified are: 1. General challenges: studies of structures and processes; developmental biology and evolution of vertebrates; how to use ontogenetic characters in systematic; multiple appearances or just synapomorphies. 2. Specific Challenges: sequential heterochronies of the development based on organs and systems; limb development in vertebrates; the evolution of the jaw in vertebrates; ultrastructures. 3. Languages: building ontologies. 4. Techniques: 4D morphology; clearing viscera (CLARITY); anatomical networks. These different challenges show that we should consider the study of vertebrates from the point of view of an Integrative Morphology.

CHA1-2  3:00 pm  Major challenges in vertebrate morphology, macroevolution, variation and human birth defects. Esteve-Altava B*, Royal Veterinary College & Howard University; Molnar J, Howard University; Diogo R, Howard University
Abstract: Together with other colleagues, we are creating a new field of science: Evolutionary Developmental Pathological Anthropology. The main goal of this new field is to bring together anatomy, human evolution, development, genetics, birth defects and medicine, by using both non-human model organisms and studies of humans with birth defects or anatomical variations to address these issues. The combination of these fields and, importantly, the inclusion of both hard- and soft-tissue-based information and of new, state-of-the-art methods such as anatomical network analyses, allow us to address evolutionary and developmental questions that are not tractable using other types of studies and methodologies. Here we provide a few examples to illustrate the main aims and potential of this new field, focusing on: 1) notions of purpose and progress in macroevolution and the parallelism between ontogeny and phylogeny; 2) the relationship between trisomies, 'atavisms', evolutionary reversions, developmental constraints and internalism vs externalism; 3) the variations and anomalies in the musculoskeletal system of modern humans and their evolutionary, developmental and medical implications; and 4) discussions on the relationships between modularity, integration, complexity and evolvability using data recently obtained from anatomical networks studies.

CHA1-3  3:30 pm  Major challenges in vertebrate morphology and developmental biology: links with human evolution and pathology, including relations between heart and head muscle development. Kelly R. G., Aix Marseille University; Diogo R. *, Howard University
Abstract: Here we introduce a new field of biology: Evolutionary Developmental Pathology and Anthropology (Evo-Devo-P'Anth), which combines experimental and developmental studies of non-human model organisms, biological anthropology, chordate comparative anatomy and evolution, and the study of normal and pathological development in humans. As a key case study, we refer to recent studies revealing a strong link between vertebrate heart and head muscle development in the early embryo. Evolutionarily conserved cardiopharyngeal mesoderm (CPM), associated with the developing foregut or pharynx, has recently been shown to contain common heart and head muscle progenitor cells. Addition of CPM drives elongation of the embryonic heart tube, giving rise to myocardium at the cardiac poles. CPM also gives rise to branchiomeric craniofacial skeletal muscles that activate myogenesis through different upstream regulatory programs to somite-derived muscles. Within CPM, clonally distinct subpopulations have been shown to contribute to specific parts of the heart and subsets of branchiomeric muscles, such as right ventricular myocardium and first arch-derived muscles of mastication or outflow tract myocardium and second arch-derived muscles of facial expression. Perturbation of the cardiopharyngeal developmental field results in a spectrum of cardiac and craniofacial congenital anomalies, typified by DiGeorge or 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. Esophageal, trapezius and sternocleidomastoid muscles have been identified as TBX1-dependent branchiomeric muscles.

CHA1-4  3:45 pm  Major challenges in vertebrate morphology and theoretical biology: networks, macroevolution, and human birth defects. Rasskin-Gutman D*, University of Valencia; Sánchez García JM, University of Valencia; Esteve-Altava B, The Royal Veterinary College; Navarro Díaz A, University of Valencia; Rasskin I, University of Montpellier; Diogo R, Howard University
Abstract: Looking at macroevolutionary challenges with a Theoretical Biology lens offers different perspectives that can reveal unexpected ideas about old morphological problems. In our recent work using Anatomical Network Analysis, we have found that three seemingly unrelated observations might provide clues for a theory of morphological change at large scales: (1) the relation between connectivity among bones in the skull and bone shape; (2) the net reduction of number of bones in all evolutionary lineages; and (3) the craniofacial consequences of early bone fusion in humans. The number of elements composing the skull has been declining in each of the major lineages of tetrapods. This macroevolutionary trend (Williston's Law) involves two morphogenetic mechanisms: the disappearance and the fusion of skull bones. The fusion of bones is critical during development and, if carried out at the wrong time, can cause morphological alterations called synostosis. These synostoses of the skull (craniosynostosis) occur in all vertebrate groups, and have been thoroughly studied in humans, since, while most do not cause major changes, some types can cause severe morphological alterations. While the medical literature has extensively studied the relationship between synosotosis and craniofacial shape alterations, there is still a knowledge gap about the evolutionary significance of adjacent bone fusion and form change. This concurrence of processes and patterns provides a unique opportunity to analyze a dynamical evolutionary phenomenon in relation to a clear morphogenetic mechanism: the formation, maintenance and closure of the cranial sutures. If the relationship between synostoses and morphological change proves to be sound, we expect to be able to render an evolutionary model able to predict bone shape change as caused by the fusion of adjacent bones. Such a model should be able to reconstruct as well as to predict form changes associated with bone fusion.

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