Developmental gene expression provides clues to relationships between sponge and eumetazoan body plans

Sven Leininger, Marcin Adamski, Brith Bergum, Corina Guder, Jing Liu, Mary Laplante, Jon Bråte, Friederike Hoffmann, Sofia Fortunato, Signe Jordal, Hans Tore Rapp, Maja Adamska*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


Elucidation of macroevolutionary transitions between diverse animal body plans remains a major challenge in evolutionary biology. We address the sponge-eumetazoan transition by analyzing expression of a broad range of eumetazoan developmental regulatory genes in Sycon ciliatum (Calcispongiae). Here we show that many members of surprisingly numerous Wnt and Tgfi 2 gene families are expressed higher or uniquely in the adult apical end and the larval posterior end. Genes involved in formation of the eumetazoan endomesoderm, such as i 2-catenin, Brachyury and Gata, as well as germline markers Vasa and Pl10, are expressed during formation and maintenance of choanoderm, the feeding epithelium of sponges. Similarity in developmental gene expression between sponges and eumetazoans, especially cnidarians, is consistent with Haeckela €™ s view that body plans of sponges and cnidarians are homologous. These results provide a framework for further studies aimed at deciphering ancestral developmental regulatory networks and their modifications during animal body plans evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3905
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2014
Externally publishedYes


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