Graduate Student Bailey Steinworth Publishes Paper with Cover Image

Graduate Student Bailey Steinworth Publishes Paper with Cover Image

Published: Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Congratulations to Bailey Steinworth, graduate student in the Martindale Lab, for her publication and making the cover of Genome Biology and Evolution. The paper, "Gene Loss may have Shaped the Cnidarian and Bilatarian Hox and ParaHox Compliment" was published with Dr. Mark Martindale and Dr. Joseph Ryan.


Hox and ParaHox transcription factors are important for specifying cell fates along the primary body axes during the development of most animals. Within Cnidaria, much of the research on Hox/ParaHox genes has focused on Anthozoa (anemones and corals) and Hydrozoa (hydroids) and has concentrated on the evolution and function of cnidarian Hox genes in relation to their bilaterian counterparts. Here we analyze together the full complement of Hox and ParaHox genes from species representing all four medusozoan classes (Staurozoa, Cubozoa, Hydrozoa, and Scyphozoa) and both anthozoan classes (Octocorallia and Hexacorallia). Our results show that Hox genes involved in patterning the directive axes of anthozoan polyps are absent in the stem leading to Medusozoa. For the first time, we show spatial and temporal expression patterns of Hox and ParaHox genes in the upside-down jellyfish Cassiopea xamachana (Scyphozoa), which are consistent with diversification of medusozoan Hox genes both from anthozoans and within medusozoa. Despite unprecedented taxon sampling, our phylogenetic analyses, like previous studies, are characterized by a lack of clear homology between most cnidarian and bilaterian Hox and Hox-related genes. Unlike previous studies, we propose the hypothesis that the cnidarian–bilaterian ancestor possessed a remarkably large Hox complement and that extensive loss of Hox genes was experienced by both cnidarian and bilaterian lineages.

Full Paper

Gene Loss may have Shaped the Cnidarian and Bilaterian Hox and ParaHox Complement