Blastoderm segmentation in oncopeltus fasciatus and the evolution of insect segmentation mechanisms

Reut Stahi, Ariel D. Chipman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Segments are formed simultaneously in the blastoderm of the fly Drosophila melanogaster through a hierarchical cascade of interacting transcription factors. Conversely, in many insects and in all non-insect arthropodsmost segments are formed sequentially from the posterior. We have looked at segmentation in the milkweed bug Oncopeltus fasciatus. Posterior segments are formed sequentially, through what is probably the ancestral arthropod mechanism. Formation of anterior segments bears many similarities to the Drosophila segmentation mode. These segments appear nearly simultaneously in the blastoderm, via a segmentation cascade that involves orthologues of Drosophila gap genes working through a functionally similar mechanism. We suggest that simultaneous blastoderm segmentation evolved at or close to the origin of holometabolous insects, and formed the basis for the evolution of the segmentation mode seen in Drosophila. We discuss the changes in segmentation mechanisms throughout insect evolution, and suggest that the appearance of simultaneous segmentation as a novel feature of holometabolous insects may have contributed to the phenomenal success of this group.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number20161745
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1840
StatePublished - 12 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


  • Blastoderm
  • Evo-devo
  • Insects
  • Segmentation
  • Transcription factors


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