3 years ago

Development of functional ectopic compound eyes in scarabaeid beetles by knockdown of orthodenticle [Evolution]

Development of functional ectopic compound eyes in scarabaeid beetles by knockdown of orthodenticle [Evolution]
Anna L. M. Macagno, Armin P. Moczek, Hannah A. Busey, Eduardo E. Zattara

Complex traits like limbs, brains, or eyes form through coordinated integration of diverse cell fates across developmental space and time, yet understanding how complexity and integration emerge from uniform, undifferentiated precursor tissues remains limited. Here, we use ectopic eye formation as a paradigm to investigate the emergence and integration of novel complex structures following massive ontogenetic perturbation. We show that down-regulation via RNAi of a single head patterning gene—orthodenticle—induces ectopic structures externally resembling compound eyes at the middorsal adult head of both basal and derived scarabaeid beetle species (Onthophagini and Oniticellini). Scanning electron microscopy documents ommatidial organization of these induced structures, while immunohistochemistry reveals the presence of rudimentary ommatidial lenses, crystalline cones, and associated neural-like tissue within them. Further, RNA-sequencing experiments show that after orthodenticle down-regulation, the transcriptional signature of the middorsal head—the location of ectopic eye induction—converges onto that of regular compound eyes, including up-regulation of several retina-specific genes. Finally, a light-aversion behavioral assay to assess functionality reveals that ectopic compound eyes can rescue the ability to respond to visual stimuli when wild-type eyes are surgically removed. Combined, our results show that knockdown of a single gene is sufficient for the middorsal head to acquire the competence to ectopically generate a functional compound eye-like structure. These findings highlight the buffering capacity of developmental systems, allowing massive genetic perturbations to be channeled toward orderly and functional developmental outcomes, and render ectopic eye formation a widely accessible paradigm to study the evolution of complex systems.

You might also like
Never Miss Important Research

Researcher is an app designed by academics, for academics. Create a personalised feed in two minutes.
Choose from over 15,000 academics journals covering ten research areas then let Researcher deliver you papers tailored to your interests each day.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.