Evolutionary developmental biology, or evo-devo, broadly investigates how body plan diversity and morphological novelties have arisen and persisted in nature. The discovery of genes in , and their subsequent identification in most other metazoans, led biologists to try to understand how embryonic genes crucial for proper development have changed to promote the vast morphological variation seen in nature. Insects are ideal model systems for studying this diversity and the mechanisms underlying it because phylogenetic relationships are well established, powerful genetic tools have been developed, and there are many examples of evolutionary specializations that have arisen in nature in different insect lineages, such as the jumping leg of orthopterans and the helmet structures of treehoppers. Here, we briefly introduce the field of evo-devo and genes, discuss functional tools available to study early developmental genes in insects, and provide examples in which changes in genes have contributed to changes in body plan or morphology.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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