Is Segmentation a Robust Gene Network

Mark Reimers1, Karolinska

Several authors have debated whether the network of genes that sets up the segmented germ band stage in many arthropods is in fact robust to evolutionary changes, and whether this might explain why it is widely conserved. We investigate this by constructing a model of the system simpler than that of (von Dassow et al), and extending it to larger numbers of genes. A major question in evotionary developmental biology is whether conserved developmental networks are conserved because they are robust, or because they are intertwined with so many other networks that they cannot be easily changed. We assess the robustness of the model system, and look at comparisons between species in this light.