NewsDevelopmental Biology

Tracing Backbone Evolution Through a Tunicate's Lost Tail

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Science  15 Nov 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5290, pp. 1082-1083
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5290.1082

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Tunicates spend their adult lives as sedentary invertebrates, but their larvae enjoy life with a tail and other vertebratelike characters. Now, as reported on page 1205, clever experiments with two species of tunicates show that most of the larvae's vertebratelike traits may be turned on by a single gene, Manx. In a milestone for developmental biology, the experiments apparently re-create an evolutionary change that occurred in the history of one tunicate species.