Arrested embryonic development: a review of strategies to delay hatching in egg-laying reptiles

Anthony Rafferty, Richard Reina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Arrested embryonic development involves the downregulation or cessation of active cell division and metabolic activity, and the capability of an animal to arrest embryonic development results in temporal plasticity of the duration of embryonic period. Arrested embryonic development is an important reproductive strategy for egg-laying animals that provide no parental care after oviposition. In this review, we discuss each type of embryonic developmental arrest used by oviparous reptiles. Environmental pressures that might have directed the evolution of arrest are addressed and we present previously undiscussed environmentally dependent physiological processes that may occur in the egg to bring about arrest. Areas for future research are proposed to clarify how ecology affects the phenotype of developing embryos. We hypothesize that oviparous reptilian mothers are capable of providing their embryos with a level of phenotypic adaptation to local environmental conditions by incorporating maternal factors into the internal environment of the egg that result in different levels of developmental sensitivity to environmental conditions after they are laid.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2299 - 2308
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume279
Issue number1737
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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