Body plan  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A body plan, or bauplan, is essentially the blueprint for the way the body of an organism is laid out. An organism's symmetry, its number of body segments and number of limbs are all aspects of its body plan. One of the key issues of developmental biology is the evolution of body plans as different as those of a starfish, a fern, or a mammal, from a common biological heritage, and in particular how radical changes in body plans have occurred over geological time. The body plan is a key feature of an organism's morphology, and since the discovery of DNA developmental biologists have been able to learn a lot about how genes control the development of structural features through a cascade of processes in which key genes produce morphogens, chemicals that diffuse through the body to produce a gradient that acts as a position indicator for cells, turning on other genes, some of which in turn produce other morphogens. A key discovery was the existence of groups of homeobox genes which are responsible for laying down the basic body plan in organisms. The homeobox genes are remarkably conserved between species as diverse as the fruitfly and man, the basic segmented pattern of the worm or fruitfly being the origin of the segmented spine in man. The field of evolutionary developmental biology, which studies the genetics of morphology in detail is now a rapidly expanding one , with many of the developmental genetic cascades, particularly in the fruitfly drosophila, now catalogued in considerable detail .

Body plan is the basis for phylum, and there are 35 different basic animal body plans, corresponding to different phyla.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Body plan" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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