|Title||Testing homology with morphology, development and gene expression: sex-specific thoracic appendages of the ant Diacamma|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2006|
|Authors||Baratte, S, Peeters, C, Deutsch, JS|
Females of the ants belonging to the queenless genus Diacamma have a pair of unique tiny thoracic appendages, called "gemmae," located on the mesothoracic segment. They are covered with sensory hairs, filled with exocrine glands and are involved in the behavioral regulation of reproduction. We report here a morphological, developmental, and genetic study of the development of the gemmae. Both male and female larvae have dorsal mesothoracic discs, although differing in shape and fate. In Diacamma ceylonense, we show that, contrary to butterflies, these discs specify parts of the adult thorax in addition to wing tissues, as in Drosophila. We have cloned and studied the expression of wingless (wg) and scalloped (sd), two genes known to play a critical role in wing morphogenesis in Drosophila. In the fly's mesothoracic dorsal disc, sd is specifically expressed in the wing pouch. In Diacamma, we show that sd is also expressed in male dorsal thoracic discs, whereas its expression was undetectable in females. From this result and observations of shape and growth of cultured isolated discs, we suggest that gemmae originate from a more ventral part of the dorsal disc than the wing pouch and discuss the pro and cons of gemma/wing homology.