The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 47: 653 - 663 (2003)

Vol 47, Issue 7-8

Special Issue: Evolution & Development

Developmental basis for vein pattern variations in insect wings

Published: 1 December 2003

José F De Celis and Fernando J Diaz-Benjumea

Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain.


The venation patterns characteristics of different insect orders and of families belonging to the same order possess enormous variation in vein number, position and differentiation. Although the developmental basis of changes in vein patterns during evolution is entirely unknown, the identification of the genes and developmental processes involved in Drosophila vein pattern formation facilitates the elaboration of construction rules. It is thus possible to identify the likely changes which may constitute a source of pattern variation during evolution. In this review, we discuss how actual patterns of venation could be accounted for by modifications in different Pterygota of a common set of developmental operations. We argue that the individual specification of each vein and the modular structure of the regulatory regions of the key genes identified in Drosophila offer candidate entry points for pattern modifications affecting individual veins or interveins independently. Assuming a general conservation of the processes involved in different species, the transitions between different patterns may require few changes in the regulatory gene networks involved.

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