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BMC Evolutionary Biology

, 14:240

Evolutionary developmental biology and morphology

Abstract

BackgroundInsect compound eyes are composed of ommatidia, which contain photoreceptor cells that are sensitive to different wavelengths of light defined by the specific rhodopsin proteins that they express. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has several different ommatidium types that can be localised to specific retinal regions, such as the dorsal rim area DRA, or distributed stochastically in a mosaic across the retina, like the `pale- and `yellow- types. Variation in these ommatidia patterns very likely has important implications for the vision of insects and could underlie behavioural and environmental adaptations. However, despite the detailed understanding of ommatidia specification in D. melanogaster, the extent to which the frequency and distribution of the different ommatidium types vary between sexes, strains and species of Drosophila is not known.

ResultsWe investigated the frequency and distribution of ommatidium types based on rhodopsin protein expression, and the expression levels of rhodopsin transcripts in the eyes of both sexes of different strains of D. melanogaster, D. simulans and D. mauritiana. We found that while the number of DRA ommatidia was invariant, Rh3 expressing ommatidia were more frequent in the larger eyes of females compared to the males of all species analysed. The frequency and distribution of ommatidium types also differed between strains and species. The D. simulans strain ZOM4 has the highest frequency of Rh3 expressing ommatidia, which is associated with a non-stochastic patch of pale and odd-coupled ommatidia in the dorsal-posterior of their eyes.

ConclusionsOur results show that there is striking variation in the frequency and distribution of ommatidium types between sexes, strains and species of Drosophila. This suggests that evolutionary changes in the underlying regulatory mechanisms can alter the distribution of ommatidium types to promote or restrict their expression in specific regions of the eye within and between species, and that this could cause differences in vision among these flies.

KeywordsSexual dimorphism Insect vision Eye morphology Evolution Rhodopsins Drosophila Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s12862-014-0240-x contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Maarten Hilbrant - Isabel Almudi - Daniel J Leite - Linta Kuncheria - Nico Posnien - Maria DS Nunes - Alistair P McGrego

Fuente: https://link.springer.com/







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