Lepidopteran insects present a complex organization of appendages which develop by various mechanisms. In the mulberry silkworm,Bombyx mori a pair of meso- and meta-thoracic discs located on either side in the larvae gives rise to the corresponding fore- and hind-wings of the adult. These discs do not experience massive cell rearrangements during metamorphosis and display the adult wing vein pattern. We have analysed wing development inB. mori by two approaches, viz., expression of patterning genes in larval wing discs, and regulatory capacities of larval discs following explantation or perturbation. Expression of Nubbin is seen all over the presumptive wing blade domains unlike inDrosophila, where it is confined to the hinge and the wing pouch. Excision of meso- and meta-thoracic discs during the larval stages resulted in emergence of adult moths lacking the corresponding wings without any loss of thoracic tissues suggesting independent origin of wing and thoracic primordia. The expression of wingless and distal-less along the dorsal/ventral margin in wing discs correlated well with their expression profile in adultDrosophila wings. Partially excised wing discs did not showin situ regeneration or duplication suggesting their early differentiation. The presence of adult wing vein patterns discernible in larval wing discs and the patterns of marker gene expression as well as the inability of these discs to regulate growth suggested that wing differentiation is achieved early inB. mori. The timings of morphogenetic events are different and the wing discs behave like presumptive wing buds opening out as wing blades inB. mori unlike evagination of only the pouch region as wing blades seen inDrosophila.
Volume 48, 2023
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