A high-resolution morphogenetic map of the second-leg basitarsus in Drosophila melanogaster

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The lineages of cells on the second-leg basitarsus of Drosophila melanogaster were analyzed by examining gynandromorphs and Minute mosaics. Bracts lie proximal to bristles on the adult basitarsus, yet bract precursor cells were found to originate lateral to bristle precursor cells. In 6 of the 8 longitudinal rows of bristles on this segment, the bract cells arise ventral to the bristle cells; in the others they arise dorsally. The lateral cell origins are interpreted as reflecting a pattern of lateral cell movements associated with evagination of the leg disc. An unusual discrepancy was observed in the relative frequencies of male vs. female bracts and bristles in gynandromorphs. The discrepancy suggests that there is a cell-autonomous sexual difference in either the time at which cells begin moving during evagination or the speed with which they move. On the basis of the results, it is reasoned that the bristle pattern of the basitarsus does not originate in its final form. Prior to evagination, the bristle cells of each row are apparently closer together than in the final pattern, and the rows are farther apart. Evidence is presented which suggests that the bristle cells of each row may originally be arranged in a jagged line which is later straightened by cell movements. The two locations where the anterior/posterior compartment boundary of the second leg passes through the basitarsus were found to vary relative to the bristle pattern. If this boundary is assumed to be a fixed line of positional values, then the extent of the observed variability - which is estimated to be ± 1 or 2 cell diameters - provides a measure of the precision of patterning around the circumference.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-150
Number of pages22
JournalWilhelm Roux's Archives of Developmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1979


  • Bristle
  • Cell lineage
  • Drosophila
  • Leg
  • Pattern formation


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