Evolutionary developmental biology (evo–devo) has its origins in comparative embryology, but it was more recent advances in developmental genetics that really defined the field. Evo–devo attempts to integrate an understanding of developmental processes into the Modern Synthesis of genetics and evolution, which classically only looked at how allele frequencies changed in populations. This Focus issue of Nature Reviews Genetics examines some of the conceptual advances that evo–devo is offering to evolutionary biology as a whole, and looks at how both new approaches such as genomics and classical approaches such as palaeontology are supporting these advances.

The accompanying library collects the most relevant recent publications from across Nature Publishing Group.


Evo–devo: extending the evolutionary synthesis

Gerd B. Müller


Nature Reviews Genetics 8, 943-949

Evo–devo is now a mature field encompassing a wide range of research areas. The author offers his assessment of its main theoretical implications and challenges for the immediate future.



Written in stone: fossils, genes and evo–devo

Rudolf A. Raff


Nature Reviews Genetics 8, 911-920

Evo–devo has its origins in both palaentology and developmental genetics, but there is a tendency to overlook the former as being old-fashioned. However, integrating information from both sources is essential to generating realistic hypotheses about how developmental processes evolved.

Evolutionary developmental biology and genomics

Cristian Cañestro, Hayato Yokoi & John H. Postlethwait


Nature Reviews Genetics 8, 932-942

The genomics era offers many exciting opportunities to answer questions in evo–devo. Newly sequenced genomes of phylogenetically diverse organisms allow us to chronicle the gain and loss of morphological features and correlate them with their genetic underpinnings.

The road to modularity

Günter P. Wagner, Mihaela Pavlicev & James M. Cheverud


Nature Reviews Genetics 8, 921-931

A module is a linked group of phenotypic traits that depend on each other but are relatively independent of other modules. The insight that developmental mechanisms are modular is important for their evolution, making modularity a key concept in evo–devo and beyond.


Extra navigation