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Dev Genes Evol. 1998 Sep;208(7):357-68.

Patterns of embryonic neurogenesis in a primitive wingless insect, the silverfish, Ctenolepisma longicaudata: comparison with those seen in flying insects.

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Research School for Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia. JWT@U.WASHINGTON.EDU


Neurogenesis was examined in the central nervous system of embryos of the primitively wingless insect, the silverfish, Ctenolepisma longicaudata, using staining with toluidine blue (TB) and the incorporation of bromodeoxyuridine (BUdR). The silverfish has the same number and positioning of neuroblasts as seen in more advanced insects and the relative order in which the different neuroblasts segregate from the neuroectoderm is highly conserved between Ctenolepisma and the grasshopper, Schistocerca. Of the 31 different neuroblasts found in a thoracic segment, one (NB 6-3) has a much longer proliferative period in silverfish. Of the remainder, 14 have similar proliferative phases, while16 neuroblasts have extended their proliferative period by 10% of embryogenesis or greater in the grasshopper as compared with the silverfish. Both insects had similar periods of abdominal neurogenesis except that in the silverfish terminal ganglion a prominent set of neuroblasts continued dividing until close to hatching, possibly reflecting the importance of cercal sensory input in this insect. This comparison between silverfish and grasshopper shows that the shift from wingless to flying insects was not accompanied by the addition of any new neuronal lineages in the thorax. Instead, selected lineages underwent a proliferative expansion to supply the additional neurons presumably needed for flight. The expansion of specific thoracic lineages was accompanied by the reduction of the terminal abdominal lineages as flying insects began to de-emphasize their cercal sensory system.

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