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Dev Genes Evol. 2008 Jul;218(7):381-7. doi: 10.1007/s00427-008-0226-z. Epub 2008 Jun 10.

Dynamic expression patterns of vasa during embryogenesis in the cricket Gryllus bimaculatus.

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Department of Life Systems, Institute of Technology and Science, The University of Tokushima, 2-1 Minami-Jyosanjima-cho, Tokushima City, Japan.


The specification of germ cells during embryogenesis is an important issue in the development of metazoans. In insects, the mode of germ cell specification appears to be highly variable among species and molecular data are not sufficient to provide an evolutionary perspective to this issue. Expression of vasa can be used as a germ line marker. Here, we report the isolation of a vasa-like gene in a hemimetabolous insect, the cricket Gryllus bimaculatus (Gb'vas), and its expression patterns during oogenesis and embryogenesis. Gb'vas is preferentially expressed in the germarium and the expression of Gb'vas is detectable throughout vitellogenesis including mature eggs subjected to oviposition, suggesting that Gb'vas is maternally contributed to the cricket eggs. The zygotic expression of Gb'vas appears to start at the mid blastoderm stage in the posterior region of the egg, expanding in a developing germ anlage. In early germbands, an intense expression of Gb'vas is restricted to the posterior end. In later embryos, Gb'vas expression extends over the whole body and then distinctly localized to the embryonic gonad at the stage immediately before hatching. These results suggest that, in the cricket, germ cells are specified early in development at the posterior end of an early germband, as proposed by Heymons (1895) based on cytological criteria.

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