Collaborative Resources for
Learning Developmental Biology
Collaborative Resources for Learning Developmental Biology
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Comparison of Long and Short Germ-Band Insects
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David Kimelman

Additional Author(s): Benjamin L. Martin

Published on SDB CoRe: May 18 2012

Organisms: Invertebrates
Embryonic Patterning: Axis Formation
Evolutionary Developmental Biology: Developmental Modifications
Organism: Drosophila, Beetle
Stage of Development: Embryo

Object Description

Insects adopt one of three primary modes for forming their body plans, called long germ-band, intermediate germ-band or short germ-band development.  The latter two mechanisms are evolutionarily more ancient, whereas long germ-band development is a highly derived mechanism observed primarily in dipterans (flies and mosquitoes). In long germ-band insects, exemplified by the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster (a), the entire anterior to posterior body axis is established simultaneously, with the embryonic germ anlage occupying the majority of the egg. In the more basal short or intermediate germ-band insects, exemplified by the short germ-band flour beetle Tribolium castaneum (b), the embryonic germ anlage occupies a smaller portion of the egg, and only the anterior head and thorax domains are initially specified.  The posterior parts of the body grow out progressively to form the abdomen and complete the anterior-posterior axis.  This process of posterior growth is in general similar to the mechanism used in vertebrates to form their anterior-posterior axis.


Kimelman, D. and Martin, B.L. Anterior–posterior patterning in early development: three strategies. WIREs Dev Biol, 2012, 1:253-266.

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