Int. J. Dev. Biol. 58: 727 - 732 (2014)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.150026dd
© UPV/EHU Press

Snakes: hatching of a model system for Evo-Devo?

Isabel Guerreiro1 and Denis Duboule*,1,2

1Department of Genetics and Evolution, University of Geneva and 2School of Life Sciences, Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, Switzerland

ABSTRACT Evo-Devo studies rely on a collection of animal model systems belonging to different phylogenetic branches to try and understand how organisms carrying a similar set of genes and pathways can develop into such a variety of shapes and sizes. The squamate clade, however, has only recently started to receive the attention it deserves in particular due to extreme morphological and metabolic aspects and, consequently, the important insights that it could bring in different fields. The recent sequencing of several squamate genomes as well as the generation of high quality trancriptomes for different snake tissues now provide the necessary tools to complement biological studies. Here, we briefly report on recent work involving developing snake embryos to illustrate their interest to assess vertebrate developmental mechanisms. We also discuss the relevance to use snake species as Evo-Devo model systems and potential ways to cross the important limitations intrinsically associated with developmental and genetic studies of these fascinating animals.

Keywords:

Hox gene, snake, model organism, axial extension, vertebrae

*Corresponding author e-mail: Denis.Duboule@unige.ch