Linking micro- and macro-evolution at the cell type level: a view from the lophotrochozoanPlatynereis dumerilii

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Ever since the origin of the first metazoans over 600 million years ago, cell type diversification has been driven by micro-evolutionary processes at population level, leading to macro-evolution changes above species level. In this review, we introduce the marine annelid Platynereis dumerilii, a member of the lophotrochozoan clade (a key yet most understudied superphylum of bilaterians), as a suitable model system for the simultaneous study, at cellular resolution, of macro-evolutionary processes across phyla and of micro-evolutionary processes across highly polymorphic populations collected worldwide. Recent advances in molecular and experimental techniques, easy maintenance and breeding, and the fast, synchronous and stereotypical development have facilitated the establishment of Platynereis as one of the leading model species in the eco–evo–devo field. Most importantly, Platynereis allows the combination of expression profiling, morphological and physiological characterization at the single cell level. Here, we discuss recent advances in the collection of –omics data for the lab strain and for natural populations collected world-wide that can be integrated with population-specific cellular analyses to result in a cellular atlas integrating genetic, phenotypic and ecological variation. This makes Platynereis a tractable system to begin understanding the interplay between macro- and micro-evolutionary processes and cell type diversity.

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