(In)discrete charm of the polyembryony: Evolution of embryo cloning
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Polyembryonic development, where multiple embryos are formed from a single zygote, evolved at least 15 times in six different phyla in animals. The mechanisms leading to polyembryony and the forces that shaped the evolution of the polyembryonic developmental program have remained poorly understood. Recent studies of the polyembryonic development in the endoparasitic wasp Copidosoma floridanum have revealed that the evolution of polyembryony is associated with the evolution of developmental novelties such as total cleavage, early specification of embryonic and extra-embryonic fates, and a specific cell proliferation phase. These changes cumulatively result in the formation of thousands of embryos from a single egg. Laser ablation studies and analysis of early cell fate specification have revealed that a single blastomere representing the progenitor of the primordial germ cell regulates the proliferation of the embryos. We propose that evolutionary changes in cell cleavage, cell interactions, and the cell-differentiation program, reminiscent of interactions between the germinal stem cell and stem cell niche in fly ovaries, underlies the evolution of polyembryony.
Keywords.Evolution of development polyembryony total cleavage stem cells embryo cloning neoplastic tumors twinning
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