The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 61: 585 - 590 (2017)

Vol 61, Issue 10-11-12

Special Issue: The Amphioxus Model System

The dawn of amphioxus molecular biology - a personal perspective

Published: 20 December 2017

Peter W.H. Holland*

Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK


The cloning and embryonic expression analysis of an amphioxus Hox gene in 1992 marked the start of molecular analysis of cephalochordate development. Other papers quickly followed, including a description of the amphioxus Hox gene cluster in 1994, fuelling a resurgence of interest in a long-forgotten animal. I describe the academic background, laboratory experiments and field work leading to the earliest publications in amphioxus molecular developmental biology and explain their scientific impact. The story of amphioxus biology in the 1990s involved collaboration, team work, opportunistic meetings, serendipity, incredulous journal editors, stingrays, airport departure lounges and popcorn.


Branchiostoma, Tampa Bay, genome duplication, homeobox, ParaHox

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