Chapter 13. The Developmental Genetics of Microevolution

  1. Gregory Bock Organizer and
  2. Jamie Goode
  1. David L. Stern

Published Online: 11 JUN 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9780470319390.ch13

Tinkering: The Microevolution of Development: Novartis Foundation Symposium 284

Tinkering: The Microevolution of Development: Novartis Foundation Symposium 284

How to Cite

Stern, D. L. (2006) The Developmental Genetics of Microevolution, in Tinkering: The Microevolution of Development: Novartis Foundation Symposium 284 (eds G. Bock and J. Goode), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470319390.ch13

Author Information

  1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 11 JUN 2007
  2. Published Print: 8 JUN 2006

Book Series:

  1. Novartis Foundation Symposia

Book Series Editors:

  1. Novartis Foundation

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470034293

Online ISBN: 9780470319390



  • developmental genetics of microevolution;
  • ‘genetic architecture’ of variation;
  • parallelism and developmental pathways;
  • cis-regulatory region sites of evolutionary change;
  • closely related species’ comparison and phenotypic divergence


What is the relationship between variation that segregates within natural populations and the differences that distinguish species? Many studies over the past century have demonstrated that most of the genetic variation within natural populations that contributes to quantitative traits causes relatively small phenotypic effects. In contrast, the genetic causes of quantitative differences between species are at least sometimes caused by few loci of relatively large effect. In addition, most of the results from evolutionary developmental biology are often discussed as though changes at just a few important ‘molecular toolbox’ genes provide the key clues to morphological evolution. On the face of it, these divergent results seem incompatible and call into question the neo-Darwinian view that differences between species emerge from precisely the same kinds of variants that segregate much of the time in natural populations. One prediction from the classical model is that many different genes can evolve to generate similar phenotypes. I discuss our studies that demonstrate that similar phenotypes have evolved in multiple lineages of Drosophila by evolution of the same gene, shavenbaby/ovo. This evidence for parallel evolution suggests that svb occupies a privileged position in the developmental network patterning larval trichomes that makes it a favourable target of evolutionary change.