Heterochrony in Plants


Heterochrony refers to a change in the relative timing or rate of development of morphological features that occur in the ancestor and the descendant. This is an evolutionary concept that invokes shifts in developmental timing as a major force in the evolution of new forms.

Keywords: phase change; juvenility; evolution; cleistogamy; flowering plants


Ambros V (1997) Heterochronic genes. In: Riddle DL, Blumenthal T, Meyer BJ and Priess JR (eds) C. elegans II, pp. 501–818. Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Press

Bertrand‐Garcia R and Freeling M (1991) Hairy‐sheath frayed♯1‐0: A systemic, heterochronic mutant of maize that specifies slow developmental stage transitions. American Journal of Botany 78: 747–765.

Georgiady MS (1999) The Evolution of Inbreeding in Tomato: Developmental and Genetic Study. Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Riverside, CA, USA.

Gould SJ (1992) Ontogeny and phylogeny – revisited and reunited. BioEssays 14: 275–279.

Hill JP and Lord EM (1990) The role of developmental timing in the evolution of floral form. Seminars in Developmental Biology 1: 281–287.

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Further Reading

Gould SJ (1977) Ontogeny and Phylogeny. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

Hill JP (1996) Heterochrony in the anther. In: D'Arcy WG and Keating RC (eds) The Anther: Form, Function and Phylogeny, pp. 118–135. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kellogg EA (1990) Ontogenetic studies of florets in POA (Gramineae): allometry and heterochrony. Evolution 44: 1978–1989.

Klingenberg CP (1998) Heterochrony and allometry: the analysis of evolutionary change in ontogeny. Biological Review 73: 79–123.

Lawson EJR and Poethig RS (1995) Shoot development in plants: time for a change. TIG 11: 263–268.

Mosbrugger V (1995) Heterochrony and the evolution of land plants. In: McNamara KJ (ed.) Evolutionary Change and Heterochrony. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Poethig RS (1990) Phase change and the regulation of shoot morphogenesis in plants. Science 250: 923–930.

Wiltshire RJE, Murfet IC and Reid JF (1994) The genetic control of heterochrony: evidence from developmental mutants of Pisum sativum L. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 7: 447–465.

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How to Cite close
Lord, Elizabeth M(Apr 2001) Heterochrony in Plants. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0002089]