Sac-like structures in insect larvae called imaginal discs eventually develop into parts of the body that are exposed to the external environment. “Imaginal discs have been used for more than a century to study tissue fate determination, pattern formation, growth control, planar cell polarity, tissue shape, and cell fate specification,” says Justin Kumar, a biologist at Indiana University Bloomington. His lab studies the discs and how they lead to the development of the retina in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.
Chia-Yi Hou is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.