A genetic basis for intraspecific differences in developmental timing?
Article first published online: 21 NOV 2011
© 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Evolution & Development
Volume 13, Issue 6, pages 542–548, November/December 2011
How to Cite
Tills, O., Rundle, S. D., Salinger, M., Haun, T., Pfenninger, M. and Spicer, J. I. (2011), A genetic basis for intraspecific differences in developmental timing?. Evolution & Development, 13: 542–548. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-142X.2011.00510.x
- Issue published online: 21 NOV 2011
- Article first published online: 21 NOV 2011
Heterochrony, altered developmental timing between ancestors and their descendents, has been proposed as a pervasive evolutionary feature and recent analytical approaches have confirmed its existence as an evolutionary pattern. Yet, the mechanistic basis for heterochrony remains unclear and, in particular, whether intraspecific variation in the timing of developmental events generates, or has the potential to generate, future between-species differences. Here we make a key step in linking heterochrony at the inter- and intraspecific level by reporting an association between interindividual variation in both the absolute and relative timing (position within the sequence of developmental events) of key embryonic developmental events and genetic distance for the pond snail, Radix balthica. We report significant differences in the genetic distance of individuals exhibiting different levels of dissimilarity in their absolute and relative timing of developmental events such as spinning activity, eyespot formation, heart ontogeny, and hatching. This relationship between genetic and developmental dissimilarity is consistent with there being a genetic basis for variation in developmental timing and so suggests that intraspecific heterochrony could provide the raw material for natural selection to produce speciation.