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Insect Morphological Diversification Through the Modification of Wing Serial Homologs

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Science  14 Mar 2013:
1234219
DOI: 10.1126/science.1234219

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Abstract

Fossil insects living some 350 million years ago show winglike pads on all thoracic and abdominal segments, which suggests their serial homology. It remains unclear whether winglike structures in nonwinged segments have been lost or modified through evolution. Here, we identified a ventral/lateral part of the body wall on the first thoracic segment, the hypomeron, and pupal dorsolateral denticular outgrowths as wing serial homologs in the mealworm beetle Tenebrio molitor. Both domains transform into winglike structures under Hox RNA interference conditions. Gene expression and functional analyses revealed central roles for the key wing selector genes, vestigial and scalloped, in the hypomeron and the denticular outgrowth formation. We propose that modification, rather than loss, of dorsal appendages has provided an additional diversifying mechanism of insect body plan.

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