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Bioessays. 1996 Oct;18(10):841-5.

Asymmetry--where evolutionary and developmental genetics meet.

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Department of Genetics, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


The mechanisms responsible for the fine tuning of development, where the wildtype phenotype is reproduced with high fidelity, are not well understood. The difficulty in approaching this problem is the identification of mutant phenotypes indicative of a defect in these fine-tuning control mechanisms. Evolutionary biologists have used asymmetry as a measure of developmental homeostasis. The rationale for this was that, since the same genome controls the development of the left and right sides of a bilaterally symmetrical organism, departures from symmetry can be used to measure genetic or environmental perturbations. This paper examines the relationship between asymmetry and resistance to organophosphorous insecticides in the Australian sheep blowfly, Lucilia cuprina. A resistance gene, Rop-1, which encodes a carboxylesterase enzyme, also confers a significant increase in asymmetry. Continued exposure of resistant populations to insecticide has selected a dominant suppressor of the asymmetry phenotype. Genetic evidence indicates that the modifier is the L. cuprina Notch homologue.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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