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Title

Genetic basis for the evolution of organ morphogenesis: the case of spalt and cut in the development of insect trachea

AuthorsMiguel, Cristina de ; Linsler, Friedemann; Casanova, Jordi ; Franch-Marro, Xavier
KeywordsTrachea
Spiracles
Spalt
Cut
Morphogenesis
Evolution
Drosophila
Tribolium
Issue Date2016
PublisherCompany of Biologists
CitationDevelopment 143: 3615-3622 (2016)
AbstractIt is not clear how simple genetic changes can account for the coordinated variations that give rise to modified functional organs. Here, we addressed this issue by analysing the expression and function of regulatory genes in the developing tracheal systems of two insect species. The larval tracheal system of Drosophila can be distinguished from the less derived tracheal system of the beetle Tribolium by two main features. First, Tribolium has lateral spiracles connecting the trachea to the exterior in each segment, while Drosophila has only one pair of posterior spiracles. Second, Drosophila, but not Tribolium, has two prominent longitudinal branches that distribute air from the posterior spiracles. Both innovations, while considered different structures, are functionally dependent on each other and linked to habitat occupancy. We show that changes in the domains of spalt and cut expression in the embryo are associated with the acquisition of each structure. Moreover, we show that these two genetic modifications are connected both functionally and genetically, thus providing an evolutionary scenario by which a genetic event contributes to the joint evolution of functionally inter-related structures.
Publisher version (URL)http://doi.org/10.1242/dev.134924
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/151599
DOIhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1242/dev.134924
ISSN0950-1991
E-ISSN1477-9129
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