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Genetics Research International
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 576303, 14 pages
Review Article

Epigenetic Mechanisms Underlying Developmental Plasticity in Horned Beetles

Department of Biology, Indiana University, 915 E Third Street, Myers Hall 150, Bloomington, IN 47405-7107, USA

Received 13 September 2011; Accepted 5 December 2011

Academic Editor: Eveline Verhulst

Copyright © 2012 Sophie Valena and Armin P. Moczek. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


All developmental plasticity arises through epigenetic mechanisms. In this paper we focus on the nature, origins, and consequences of these mechanisms with a focus on horned beetles, an emerging model system in evolutionary developmental genetics. Specifically, we introduce the biological significance of developmental plasticity and summarize the most important facets of horned beetle biology. We then compare and contrast the epigenetic regulation of plasticity in horned beetles to that of other organisms and discuss how epigenetic mechanisms have facilitated innovation and diversification within and among taxa. We close by highlighting opportunities for future studies on the epigenetic regulation of plastic development in these and other organisms.