Reptile genomes open the frontier for comparative analysis of amniote development and regeneration
Published: 2 July 2015
Marc Tollis, Elizabeth D. Hutchins and Kenro Kusumi*
School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA
Developmental genetic studies of vertebrates have focused primarily on zebrafish, frog and mouse models, which have clear application to medicine and well-developed genomic resources. In contrast, reptiles represent the most diverse amniote group, but have only recently begun to gather the attention of genome sequencing efforts. Extant reptilian groups last shared a common ancestor ?280 million years ago and include lepidosaurs, turtles and crocodilians. This phylogenetic diversity is reflected in great morphological and behavioral diversity capturing the attention of biologists interested in mechanisms regulating developmental processes such as somitogenesis and spinal patterning, regeneration, the evolution of “snake-like” morphology, the formation of the unique turtle shell, and the convergent evolution of the four-chambered heart shared by mammals and archosaurs. The complete genome of the first non-avian reptile, the green anole lizard, was published in 2011 and has provided insights into the origin and evolution of amniotes. Since then, the genomes of multiple snakes, turtles, and crocodilians have also been completed. Here we will review the current diversity of available reptile genomes, with an emphasis on their evolutionary relationships, and will highlight how these genomes have and will continue to facilitate research in developmental and regenerative biology.