Imperial College London

DrArkhatAbzhanov

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences (Silwood Park)

Reader in Evolution and Developmental Genetics
 
 
 
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Contact

 

a.abzhanov

 
 
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Location

 

Munro 2.15MunroSilwood Park

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Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
Year
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92 results found

Morris ZS, Abzhanov A, 2021, Heading for higher ground: Developmental origins and evolutionary diversification of the amniote face., Curr Top Dev Biol, Vol: 141, Pages: 241-277

Amniotes, a clade of terrestrial vertebrates, which includes all of the descendants of the last common ancestor of the reptiles (including dinosaurs and birds) and mammals, is one of the most successful group of animals on our planet. In addition to having an egg equipped with an amnion, an adaptation to lay eggs on land, amniotes possess a number of other major morphological characteristics. Chief among them is the amniote skull, which can be classified into several major types distinguished by the presence and number of temporal fenestrae (windows) in the posterior part. Amniotes evolved from ancestors who possessed a skull composed of a complex mosaic of small bones separated by sutures. Changes in skull composition underlie much of the large-scale evolution of amniotes with many lineages showing a trend in reduction of cranial elements known as the "Williston's Law." The skull of amniotes is also arranged into a set of modules of closely co-evolving bones as revealed by modularity and integration tests. One of the most consistently recovered and at the same time most versatile modules is the "face," anatomically defined as the anterior portion of the head. The faces of amniotes display extraordinary amount of variation, with many adaptive radiations showing parallel tendencies in facial scaling, e.g., changes in length or width. This review explores the natural history of the amniote face and discusses how a better understanding of its anatomy and developmental biology helps to explain the outstanding scale of adaptive facial diversity. We propose a model for facial evolution in the amniotes, based on the differential rate of cranial neural crest cell proliferation and the timing of their skeletal differentiation.

Journal article

Reaney AM, BouchenakKhelladi Y, Tobias JA, Abzhanov Aet al., 2020, Ecological and morphological determinants of evolutionary diversification in Darwin's finches and their relatives, Ecology and Evolution, Vol: 10, Pages: 14020-14032, ISSN: 2045-7758

Darwin's finches are a classic example of adaptive radiation, a process by which multiple ecologically distinct species rapidly evolve from a single ancestor. Such evolutionary diversification is typically explained by adaptation to new ecological opportunities. However, the ecological diversification of Darwin's finches following their dispersal to Galápagos was not matched on the same archipelago by other lineages of colonizing land birds, which diversified very little in terms of both species number and morphology. To better understand the causes underlying the extraordinary variation in Darwin's finches, we analyze the evolutionary dynamics of speciation and trait diversification in Thraupidae, including Coerebinae (Darwin's finches and relatives) and, their closely related clade, Sporophilinae. For all traits, we observe an early pulse of speciation and morphological diversification followed by prolonged periods of slower steady‐state rates of change. The primary exception is the apparent recent increase in diversification rate in Darwin's finches coupled with highly variable beak morphology, a potential key factor explaining this adaptive radiation. Our observations illustrate how the exploitation of ecological opportunity by contrasting means can produce clades with similarly high diversification rate yet strikingly different degrees of ecological and morphological differentiation.

Journal article

Camacho J, Moon R, Smith SK, Lin JD, Randolph C, Rasweiler JJ, Behringer RR, Abzhanov Aet al., 2020, Differential cellular proliferation underlies heterochronic generation of cranial diversity in phyllostomid bats, EvoDevo, Vol: 11

Journal article

Lee HW, Esteve-Altava B, Abzhanov A, 2020, Evolutionary and ontogenetic changes of the anatomical organization and modularity in the skull of archosaurs, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, Vol: 10, ISSN: 2045-2322

Journal article

Camacho J, Heyde A, Bhullar B-AS, Haelewaters D, Simmons NB, Abzhanov Aet al., 2019, Peramorphosis, an evolutionary developmental mechanism in neotropical bat skull diversity, Developmental Dynamics, Vol: 248, Pages: 1129-1143, ISSN: 1058-8388

BackgroundThe neotropical leaf‐nosed bats (Chiroptera, Phyllostomidae) are an ecologically diverse group of mammals with distinctive morphological adaptations associated with specialized modes of feeding. The dramatic skull shape changes between related species result from changes in the craniofacial development process, which brings into focus the nature of the underlying evolutionary developmental processes.ResultsIn this study, we use three‐dimensional geometric morphometrics to describe, quantify, and compare morphological modifications unfolding during evolution and development of phyllostomid bats. We examine how changes in development of the cranium may contribute to the evolution of the bat craniofacial skeleton. Comparisons of ontogenetic trajectories to evolutionary trajectories reveal two separate evolutionary developmental growth processes contributing to modifications in skull morphogenesis: acceleration and hypermorphosis.ConclusionThese findings are consistent with a role for peramorphosis, a form of heterochrony, in the evolution of bat dietary specialists.

Journal article

Abzhanov A, 2019, Phylogenetic principles and morphogenetic mechanisms for evolvability in avian adaptive radiations., Society for Comparative and Integrative Biology (SICB)

Conference paper

Abzhanov A, 2019, Use it or lose it: integration of cranial skeleton and musculature from plasticity to genetic assimilation, ”Morphometrics: Geometry and Statistics” workshop

Conference paper

Abzhanov A, 2019, Phylogenetic principles and morphogenetic mechanisms for evolvability and biological shape change, ” Morphogenesis: Geometry and Physics” workshop

Conference paper

Morris ZS, Abzhanov A, Pierce SE, 2019, Correlations between Developmental, Ecological, and Evolutionary Axes of Cranial Shape Variation in Extant Crocodylians and the Pseudosuchian Fossil Record, Publisher: WILEY, Pages: S186-S187, ISSN: 0362-2525

Conference paper

Camacho J, Moon R, Seetahal J, Tabin C, Abzhanov Aet al., 2019, Origins of Craniofacial Diversity in New World Leaf-Nosed Bats at the Developmental, Cellular and Genetic level, Publisher: WILEY, Pages: S93-S93, ISSN: 0362-2525

Conference paper

Abzhanov A, 2019, Shaping the beaks of Darwin's finches: developmental mechanisms of the famous adaptive radiation, UK Evo-Devo Symposium

Conference paper

Morris ZS, Pierce SE, Abzhanov A, 2019, The role of craniofacial growth zones in shaping crocodylian snouts, Annual Meeting of the Society-for-Integrative-and-Comparative-Biology (SICB), Publisher: OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, Pages: E162-E162, ISSN: 1540-7063

Conference paper

Morris ZS, Vliet KA, Abzhanov A, Pierce SEet al., 2019, Heterochronic shifts and conserved embryonic shape underlie crocodylian craniofacial disparity and convergence, PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, Vol: 286, ISSN: 0962-8452

Journal article

Abzhanov A, 2018, Shaping the beaks of Darwin's finches: developmental mechanisms of the famous adaptive radiation, Darwin's Day

Conference paper

Abzhanov A, 2018, Shaping the faces of Darwin's finches and phyllostomid bats: developmental mechanisms of two famous adaptive radiations., “Growth, patterning and scaling during development”

Conference paper

Camacho J, Tabin CJ, Abzhanov A, 2018, Exploring adaptive and novel traits of bat faces through morphometrics and developmental genetics, Annual Meeting of the Society-for-Integrative-and-Comparative-Biology (SICB), Publisher: OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, Pages: E28-E28, ISSN: 1540-7063

Conference paper

Abzhanov A, 2018, Phylogenetic evidence and ontogenetic mechanisms for evolvability in avian adaptive radiations, Avian Models 10

Conference paper

Abzhanov A, 2018, Morphogenetic mechanisms for evolvability in avian adaptive radiations, First European Regional Meeting on Vertebrate Morphology, Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology

Conference paper

Abzhanov A, 2017, The old and new faces of morphology: the legacy of D'Arcy Thompson's 'theory of transformations' and 'laws of growth', Development, Vol: 144, Pages: 4284-4297, ISSN: 0950-1991

In 1917, the publication of On Growth and Form by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson challenged both mathematicians and naturalists to think about biological shapes and diversity as more than a confusion of chaotic forms generated at random, but rather as geometric shapes that could be described by principles of physics and mathematics. Thompson's work was based on the ideas of Galileo and Goethe on morphology and of Russell on functionalism, but he was first to postulate that physical forces and internal growth parameters regulate biological forms and could be revealed via geometric transformations in morphological space. Such precise mathematical structure suggested a unifying generative process, as reflected in the title of the book. To Thompson it was growth that could explain the generation of any particular biological form, and changes in ontogeny, rather than natural selection, could then explain the diversity of biological shapes. Whereas adaptationism, widely accepted in evolutionary biology, gives primacy to extrinsic factors in producing morphological variation, Thompson's ‘laws of growth' provide intrinsic directives and constraints for the generation of individual shapes, helping to explain the ‘profusion of forms, colours, and other modifications' observed in the living world.

Journal article

Fabbri M, Koch NM, Pritchard AC, Hanson M, Hoffman E, Bever GS, Balanoff AM, Morris ZS, Field DJ, Camacho J, Rowe TB, Norell MA, Smith RM, Abzhanov A, Bhullar B-ASet al., 2017, The skull roof tracks the brain during the evolution and development of reptiles including birds, Nature Ecology and Evolution, Vol: 1, Pages: 1543-1550, ISSN: 2397-334X

Major transformations in brain size and proportions, such as the enlargement of the brain during the evolution of birds, are accompanied by profound modifications to the skull roof. However, the hypothesis of concerted evolution of shape between brain and skull roof over major phylogenetic transitions, and in particular of an ontogenetic relationship between specific regions of the brain and the skull roof, has never been formally tested. We performed 3D morphometric analyses to examine the deep history of brain and skull-roof morphology in Reptilia, focusing on changes during the well-documented transition from early reptiles through archosauromorphs, including nonavian dinosaurs, to birds. Non-avialan taxa cluster tightly together in morphospace, whereas Archaeopteryx and crown birds occupy a separate region. There is a one-to-one correspondence between the forebrain and frontal bone and the midbrain and parietal bone. Furthermore, the position of the forebrain–midbrain boundary correlates significantly with the position of the frontoparietal suture across the phylogenetic breadth of Reptilia and during the ontogeny of individual taxa. Conservation of position and identity in the skull roof is apparent, and there is no support for previous hypotheses that the avian parietal is a transformed postparietal. The correlation and apparent developmental link between regions of the brain and bony skull elements are likely to be ancestral to Tetrapoda and may be fundamental to all of Osteichthyes, coeval with the origin of the dermatocranium.

Journal article

Abzhanov A, 2017, Phylogenetic principles and morphogenetic mechanisms for evolvability in avian adaptive radiations, EMBO conference

Conference paper

Abzhanov A, 2017, Phylogenetic evidence and ontogenetic mechanisms for evolvability in avian adaptive radiations, Joint Congress 2017

Conference paper

Abzhanov A, 2017, Developmental evolution of the animal face: insights into the origins of adaptive radiations, UK Evo-Devo Conference

Conference paper

Morris ZS, Pierce SE, Abzhanov A, 2017, Craniofacial growth zones and modularity in Amniota: insight from the model crocodylian, Alligator mississippiensis., Annual Meeting of the Society-for-Integrative-and-Comparative-Biology (SICB), Publisher: OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, Pages: E355-E355, ISSN: 1540-7063

Conference paper

Abzhanov A, 2017, Evolution of the Animal Face: from Principles to Mechanisms, Annual Meeting of the Society-for-Integrative-and-Comparative-Biology (SICB), Publisher: OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, Pages: E189-E189, ISSN: 1540-7063

Conference paper

Tokita M, Yano W, James HF, Abzhanov Aet al., 2016, Cranial shape evolution in adaptive radiations of birds: comparative morphometrics of Darwin's finches and Hawaiian honeycreepers, Philosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences, Vol: 372, ISSN: 0962-8436

Adaptive radiation is the rapid evolution of morphologically and ecologically diverse species from a single ancestor. The two classic examples of adaptive radiation are Darwin's finches and the Hawaiian honeycreepers, which evolved remarkable levels of adaptive cranial morphological variation. To gain new insights into the nature of their diversification, we performed comparative three-dimensional geometric morphometric analyses based on X-ray microcomputed tomography (µCT) scanning of dried cranial skeletons. We show that cranial shapes in both Hawaiian honeycreepers and Coerebinae (Darwin's finches and their close relatives) are much more diverse than in their respective outgroups, but Hawaiian honeycreepers as a group display the highest diversity and disparity of all other bird groups studied. We also report a significant contribution of allometry to skull shape variation, and distinct patterns of evolutionary change in skull morphology in the two lineages of songbirds that underwent adaptive radiation on oceanic islands. These findings help to better understand the nature of adaptive radiations in general and provide a foundation for future investigations on the developmental and molecular mechanisms underlying diversification of these morphologically distinguished groups of birds.This article is part of the themed issue ‘Evo-devo in the genomics era, and the origins of morphological diversity’.

Journal article

Abzhanov A, 2016, Developmental Integration and Evolution of the Avian Face, BMP Conference

Conference paper

Abzhanov A, 2016, Evolution of the Animal Face: from Principles to Mechanisms, Anatomical Society 2017 Conference

Conference paper

Abzhanov A, 2016, Developmental evolution of the animal face: insights into the origins of adaptive radiations, Society for Comparative and Integrative Biology

Conference paper

Abzhanov A, 2016, Evolution of the Animal Face: from Principles to Mechanisms, Anatomical Society 2017 Conference

Conference paper

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