, Volume 125, Issue 3, pp 147–155 | Cite as

Formation of the arthropod labrum by fusion of paired and rotated limb-bud-like primordia

  • Melanie A. Kimm
  • Nikola-Michael PrpicEmail author
Original Article


The nature and origin of the arthropod labrum is a matter much under dispute. We show here that in Tribolium castaneum (Herbst, 1797) the labrum develops from two individual primordia, termed labral buds. Expression of the genes decapentaplegic (dpp) and wingless (wg) in these buds is identical to the buds of the metameric appendages (e.g. thoracic legs), except that the patterns are reversed. We propose that this reversal is the result of the rotation of the labral buds through an angle of approximately 180°. We also for the first time study dpp and wg expression in the fully developed labrum of older embryonic stages. Here, gene expression patterns show that the labrum proper is formed by fusion of the labral buds along their dorsal sides, while their ventral sides are facing outward forming the lateral sides of the fused labrum. Furthermore, we show that there are very similar patterns in another arthropod species, the spider Cupiennius salei (Keyserling, 1877), although in this species the labrum develops as a single structure and not from two separate primordia. However, in C. salei the expression of engrailed is also reversed in addition to the reversal of dpp and wg expression: engrailed is expressed in the anterior half of the labrum, and not in the posterior half like in the remaining appendages. Our results suggest that the arthropod labrum is derived evolutionarily from paired limb-bud-like primordia by rotation and fusion, and that this process is recapitulated ontogenetically to a different extent in different arthropod species.


Wingless Decapentaplegic Engrailed Tribolium castaneum Cupiennius salei Labrum Arthropod evolution 



This work was conducted in the laboratories of Prof. Dr. Martin Klingler, Prof. Dr. Diethard Tautz, and Dr. Wim Damen. The authors are indebted to them and the members of their labs for the opportunity to participate in the group and are grateful for the technical, scientific and financial support provided. Both authors thank Johannes Scholten, Wim Damen, Gerhard Scholtz, Gregor Bucher and Graham Budd for helpful comments on the manuscript and/or the subject of the paper. The plasmids containing the T. castaneum gene fragments were kindly provided by Martin Klingler. The probes for the C. salei genes were kindly provided by Wim Damen. The work of M. A. K. was supported by an HFSP grant. The work of N. M. P. was supported by a grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG; grant TA 99/19-2)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1. Department Biologie IIZoologisches Institut, LMU MünchenPlanegg-MartinsriedGermany
  2. 2. Department for Evolutionary Genetics, Institut für GenetikUniversität zu KölnKolnGermany
  3. 3.Institut für Immunologie, LMU MünchenMunchenGermany
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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