Development and Evolution of the Drosophila Bolwig’s Organ: A Compound Eye Relict

  • Markus FriedrichEmail author


Bolwig’s organs, the larval eyes of Drosophila, consist of only 12 photoreceptors, lacking accessory cells such as lens and pigment cells. Because of their minimalist organization, these visual organs continue to serve as an efficient system for the genetic analysis of visual behavior, circadian behavior, axonal targeting, cellular specification, and cellular differentiation. The resultant body of data has reached a new level that warrants integrated review for reference in future research efforts. A comparative perspective underlines the fact that the Bolwig’s organs are evolutionarily related to the adult compound eye. As a reflection of this, shared genetic mechanisms regulate the specification and differentiation of photoreceptor subtypes in both organs, despite over 300 million of years of evolutionary diversification since their joint origin from the compound eye in the ancestor of holometabolous insects.


Epithelial Growth Factor Receptor Postembryonic Development Holometabolous Insect Visual Organ Founder Cell 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I am grateful to Amit Singh for the opportunity to provide this book chapter, Rewaa Yas for proofreading of the manuscript, Andrew Zelhof for sharing unpublished information and Tiffany Cook and Andrew Zelhof for valuable comments. Research in the Friedrich lab has been supported by NSF awards IOS 0951886, IOS 0091926, and EF-0334948.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  2. 2.Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, School of MedicineWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

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