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PLOS ONE  2008 

Evolutionary Changes in the Complexity of the Tectum of Nontetrapods: A Cladistic Approach

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003582

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Background The tectum is a structure localized in the roof of the midbrain in vertebrates, and is taken to be highly conserved in evolution. The present article assessed three hypotheses concerning the evolution of lamination and citoarchitecture of the tectum of nontetrapod animals: 1) There is a significant degree of phylogenetic inertia in both traits studied (number of cellular layers and number of cell classes in tectum); 2) Both traits are positively correlated accross evolution after correction for phylogeny; and 3) Different developmental pathways should generate different patterns of lamination and cytoarchitecture. Methodology/Principal Findings The hypotheses were tested using analytical-computational tools for phylogenetic hypothesis testing. Both traits presented a considerably large phylogenetic signal and were positively associated. However, no difference was found between two clades classified as per the general developmental pathways of their brains. Conclusions/Significance The evidence amassed points to more variation in the tectum than would be expected by phylogeny in three species from the taxa analysed; this variation is not better explained by differences in the main course of development, as would be predicted by the developmental clade hypothesis. Those findings shed new light on the evolution of an functionally important structure in nontetrapods, the most basal radiations of vertebrates.


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