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Homology, Genes, and Evolutionary Innovation$
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Günter P. Wagner

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691156460

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691156460.001.0001

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A Genetic Theory of Homology

A Genetic Theory of Homology

(p.82) 3 A Genetic Theory of Homology
Homology, Genes, and Evolutionary Innovation

Günter P. Wagner

Princeton University Press

This chapter presents a genetic theory of homology that addresses the most challenging problem when attempting to explain character identity; namely, unquestionable homologies (that is, character identities across species) are often associated with extensive variations in the developmental pathways and mechanisms that produce these characters. To resolve this problem, the chapter reviews some of the relevant facts from developmental genetics and then proposes a model that explains these patterns and serves as a guide for further research into the developmental evolution of morphological characters. It shows that the function of homeotic genes offers insights into what might be the developmental genetic basis of character identity. It argues that the distinction between character identity and character states is reflected in the genetic architecture of development in which character identity has a different genetic substrate than character states. This approach leads to the concept of character identity networks.

Keywords:   homology, character identity, developmental pathways, developmental genetics, developmental evolution, morphological characters, homeotic genes, character states, development, character identity network

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