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BIO310: Developmental Biology

Unit 9: “Eco-Devo”: Environmental Influences on Development   All environments influence development; genes may be the same in two eggs, but differences in their cytoplasmic environments can affect them diversely; variations in temperature can influence the sex of turtles and other reptiles; multifarious environmental conditions can induce faster or slower development or stimulate the development of various adaptive traits.  Environmental influences are a natural part of development, but these influences can have normal or disruptive effects on organisms, depending on whether or not the environment itself has been disrupted. 

In this unit, we will explore both natural and unnatural effects of the environment on development.  As with “evo-devo,” this field is an area of current interest as researchers become more involved in integrating biological disciplines and in determining the effects of drugs and pollutants, among other factors, on the development of human and non-human organisms.

Unit9 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  • Answer questions about the effects of various natural environmental factors on development (e.g. timing of development, sex change differentiation or change, different developmental forms).
  • Answer questions about the effects of various unnatural environmental factors on development (e.g. interrupting/altering sexual development, limb development, mental development).

9.1 Environmental Influences: Normal Effects   - Reading: The National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Environmental Regulation of Normal Development” Link: The National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Environmental Regulation of Normal Development” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Within this chapter, read the subsections on “Larval Settlement,” “Developmental Symbiosis,” “Seasonality and Sex in Aphids,” “Diapause,” “Phenotypic Plasticity,” and “Predator-Induced Responses.” These will cover the material in 9.1.
 
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9.1.1 Complex Life Cycles   9.1.1.1 Larval Settlement and Metamorphosis   9.1.1.2 Alternate Generations (Sexual/Asexual)   9.1.1.3 Diapause   9.1.2 Developmental Symbiosis   9.1.3 Phenotypic Plasticity   9.1.4 Predator-Induced Responses   - Reading: Boston University: Professor Karen Warkentin’s “Lab Research” Link: Boston University: Professor Karen Warkentin’s “Lab Research” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this webpage up to, but not including, the
subsection on “Developmental, physiological & life history
plasticity: the role of oxygen stress in hatching timing.” This site
will give you a sense of the effects of the predators on both
hatching time and the timing of metamorphosis.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

9.2 Environmental Disruptions: Abnormal Effects   - Reading: The National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Environmental Disruption of Normal Development” Link: The National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Environmental Disruption of Normal Development” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read all of this section except for the “Snapshot Summary.”
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.2.1 Teratogens   9.2.2 Endocrine Disruptors   - Reading: Wikipedia’s “Imposex,” Environmental Health News’ “Synopsis of ‘Agriculture Alters Gonadal Form and Function in Bufo marinus,’” US Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Endocrine Disruptors,” and National Geographic’s “Household Pollutants Disrupting Fish Genes” Links: Wikipedia’s “Imposex,” (HTML) Environmental Health News’ “Synopsis of ‘Agriculture Alters Gonadal Form and Function in Bufo marinus,’” (HTML) US Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Endocrine Disruptors,” (HTML) and National Geographic’s “Household Pollutants Disrupting Fish Genes” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read each of these brief pages in their entirety to learn more about the effects of environmental pollutants on the sexual development of a variety of organisms.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.