Advertisement
Sigma-Aldrich
Sigma-Aldrich

Precisely Placed

Vein patterns in the wings of developing fruit flies never vary by more than the width of a single cell.

By | September 1, 2014

RIGID CONSTRUCTION: The wing vein patterns of two flies deviate from one another by a width no greater than half a cell.THOMAS GREGOR

EDITOR'S CHOICE IN DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY

The paper
L. Abouchar et al., “Fly wing vein patterns have spatial reproducibility of a single cell,” J R Soc Interface, 11:20140443, 2014.

The embryo
Multicellular organisms faithfully re-create the patterns of complex body structures from one generation to the next. Thomas Gregor’s lab at Princeton University previously showed that the initial body plan of three-hour-old fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) embryos varied, from one embryo to the next, by a total width no greater than half of a cell. This led Gregor to wonder whether wing patterns, which develop in 10-day-old flies, are just as precise.

The wing
Gregor and his colleagues used computer analysis and superimposition to measure and compare wing vein patterns in fruit flies. Even when grown at different temperatures, genetically similar flies had as little variation between two flies’ wings as between the left and right wings of a single fly. And genetically less-similar flies’ wings differed by no more than one cell’s width, suggesting exquisitely precise developmental control over vein patterns. “At every single step, we are at the precision of one half to one cell, so no [additional] error-reducing mechanisms [are] necessary,” says Gregor.

The extended pattern
Confirming these data among fruit fly lines with known mutations in wing patterns is crucial, says evolutionary geneticist Ian Dworkin of Michigan State University in East Lansing. If the data hold, it would point to “a remarkable amount of communication between the two sides of the body,” he says. “It would mean development is really incredibly precise.”

The bigger picture
Understanding this reproducibility between and within individuals could help synthetic biologists, says Gregor. “If we want to build biological machines we need to understand how [such] systems ensure reproducibility and precision.”

Correction (September 16): In the original version of this article we mistakenly identified the flies under study as embryos, when in fact they were adults. The Scientist regrets the error.

Advertisement

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Comments

Avatar of: David Beebe

David Beebe

Posts: 4

September 16, 2014

Fly embyros don't have wings! :(

Avatar of: Jyoti Madhusoodanan

Jyoti Madhusoodanan

Posts: 126

Replied to a comment from David Beebe made on September 16, 2014

September 16, 2014

Thanks, David Beebe, for pointing out the error about fly embryos. We've corrected the article.

Avatar of: MicroTech

MicroTech

Posts: 10

September 17, 2014

"genetically similar flies had as little variation between two flies’ wings as between the left and right wings of a single fly. And genetically less-similar flies’ wings differed by no more than one cell’s width, suggesting exquisitely precise developmental control over vein patterns" seems to indicate that a very specific set of genes, virtually the same for every fruit fly (?), is at work...

I find that somewhat difficult to believe... Why would the wing patterns (which one would expect to vary in ways similar to e.g. fingerprints) have such high "fitness index" that these genes have become conserved across a species? Have these gene sequences been located, and verified? Where can I read more about this?

Follow The Scientist

icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-twitter icon-vimeo icon-youtube

Stay Connected with The Scientist

  • icon-facebook The Scientist Magazine
  • icon-facebook The Scientist Careers
  • icon-facebook Neuroscience Research Techniques
  • icon-facebook Genetic Research Techniques
  • icon-facebook Cell Culture Techniques
  • icon-facebook Microbiology and Immunology
  • icon-facebook Cancer Research and Technology
  • icon-facebook Stem Cell and Regenerative Science
Advertisement
R&D Systems
R&D Systems
Advertisement
Life Technologies