Modularity and developmental stability in segmented animals: variation in translational asymmetry in geophilomorph centipedes
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- Savriama, Y., Vitulo, M., Gerber, S. et al. Dev Genes Evol (2016) 226: 187. doi:10.1007/s00427-016-0538-3
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Does a modular body organization present a challenge for developmental control? We investigate the idea of a possible developmental cost of modularity by examining the relationship between modularity and developmental stability in a multi-segmented arthropod taxon: the geophilomorph centipedes. In a sample of eight species, we tested the correlation between developmental stability, estimated from measures of translational fluctuating asymmetry, and the number of trunk segments and some other morphological traits, both at the species and individual levels. We found sizeable differences in size and shape patterns of variation at the level of species. However, we did not find any clear evidence of correlation between fluctuating asymmetry and the number of trunk segments or the other morphological traits considered. Thus, our results provide no support to the idea of a possible trade-off between the cardinality of a modular system and the level of developmental precision in the phenotypic expression of its modules. The results of this exploratory study invite further investigations of patterns of translational fluctuating asymmetry in segmented animals and other modular organisms, as these have the potential to reveal features of developmental stability that cannot be captured by the study of bilateral asymmetry alone.