Insect-Crustacean Relationships: Insights from Comparative Developmental and Molecular Studies

Michalis Averof, Michael Akam

Abstract

The phylogenetic relationships between the major arthropod groups are still far from being resolved. Phylogenetic analyses have usually relied on detailed morphological comparisons which are confounded by the extensive occurrence of convergence. We examine the available morphological evidence in the light of recent comparative developmental and molecular studies and suggest ways in which genetic-developmental information could help assess homology and overcome the problem of convergence. On the basis of such considerations we support the common origin of crustaceans and insects from a crustacean-like mandibulate ancestor. Focusing on the specific relationships between crustaceans, myriapods and insects, we suggest that insects could emerge from this crustacean-like ancestor independently from myriapods, and after the major crustacean radiations.

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