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Expression of NK cluster genes in the onychophoran Euperipatoides rowelli: implications for the evolution of NK family genes in nephrozoans
Background: Understanding the evolution and development of morphological traits of the last common bilaterian ancestor is a major goal of the evo-devo discipline. The reconstruction of this “urbilaterian” is mainly based on comparative studies of common molecular patterning mechanisms in recent model organisms. The NK homeobox genes are key players in many of these molecular pathways, including processes regulating mesoderm, heart and neural development. Shared features seen in the expression patterns of NK genes ...
Assessing segmental versus non-segmental features in the ventral nervous system of onychophorans (velvet worms)
Background: Due to their phylogenetic position as one of the closest arthropod relatives, studies of the organisation of the nervous system in onychophorans play a key role for understanding the evolution of body segmentation in arthropods. Previous studies revealed that, in contrast to the arthropods, segmentally repeated ganglia are not present within the onychophoran ventral nerve cords, suggesting that segmentation is either reduced or might be incomplete in the onychophoran ventral nervous system. Results: ...