Development Genes and Evolution

, Volume 217, Issue 1, pp 13–27

Germ-cell cluster formation in the telotrophic meroistic ovary of Tribolium castaneum (Coleoptera, Polyphaga, Tenebrionidae) and its implication on insect phylogeny


  • Jochen Trauner
    • Department of Biology, Chair of Developmental BiologyFriedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
    • Department of Biology, Chair of Developmental BiologyFriedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00427-006-0114-3

Cite this article as:
Trauner, J. & Büning, J. Dev Genes Evol (2007) 217: 13. doi:10.1007/s00427-006-0114-3


Tribolium castaneum has telotrophic meroistic ovarioles of the Polyphaga type. During larval stages, germ cells multiply in a first mitotic cycle forming many small, irregularly branched germ-cell clusters which colonize between the anterior and posterior somatic tissues in each ovariole. Because germ-cell multiplication is accompanied by cluster splitting, we assume a very low number of germ cells per ovariole at the beginning of ovariole development. In the late larval and early pupal stages, we found programmed cell death of germ-cell clusters that are located in anterior and middle regions of the ovarioles. Only those clusters survive that rest on posterior somatic tissue. The germ cells that are in direct contact with posterior somatic cells transform into morphologically distinct pro-oocytes. Intercellular bridges interconnecting pro-oocytes are located posteriorly and are filled with fusomes that regularly fuse to form polyfusomes. Intercellular bridges connecting pro-oocytes to pro-nurse cells are always positioned anteriorly and contain small fusomal plugs. During pupal stages, a second wave of metasynchronous mitoses is initiated by the pro-oocytes, leading to linear subclusters with few bifurcations. We assume that the pro-oocytes together with posterior somatic cells build the center of determination and differentiation of germ cells throughout the larval, pupal, and adult stages. The early developmental pattern of germ-cell multiplication is highly similar to the events known from the telotrophic ovary of the Sialis type. We conclude that among the common ancestors of Neuropterida and Coleoptera, a telotrophic meroistic ovary of the Sialis type evolved, which still exists in Sialidae, Raphidioptera, and a myxophagan Coleoptera family, the Hydroscaphidae. Consequently, the telotrophic ovary of the Polyphaga type evolved from the Sialis type.


Tribolium Cluster formation Insect Phylogeny Oogenesis

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© Springer-Verlag 2006