Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Diehl, Walter J.

Committee Member

Munn, Giselle T.

Committee Member

Wallace, Lisa

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


The placement of Metazoan species into correct clades has become of prime concern to the study of evolutionary development, since the most recent phylogeny of Metazoans indicates embryological divergence. Genetic regulatory networks have been extensively described for some species but not for others. This study examines possible divergence of bilaterians at the protostome-deuterostome divide by examining dorsoventral patterning genes. A specific maternally active gene, dorsal/rela, the final element in the maternal pathway, was found to be a driving force behind this divergence and was co-opted from genes already existing in the Metazoan ancestor.