Catching the Next Wave: Patterning of the Drosophila Eye by the Morphogenetic Furrow

  • Justin P. KumarEmail author


In 1864, August Weismann published the first drawing of the insect eye–antennal disc complex. In this image, he drew a line within the eye and described it as the border between the eye and antennal portions of the disc complex. One hundred and twelve years later, Donald Ready, Thomas Hanson, and Seymour Benzer demonstrated that this line, which they called the morphogenetic furrow, is actually the leading edge of a differentiating wave that traverses the eye disc of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, and transforms a field of undifferentiated and nonpatterned cells into an ordered array of periodically spaced ommatidia or unit eyes. In the 36 years since this seminal discovery, dozens of papers have focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms that underlie the initiation and progression of the furrow as well as the many cellular changes that cells undergo as they enter, temporarily reside, and then exit the furrow. This review will summarize what is currently known about the cellular architecture of the furrow and the mechanisms that control its birth and propagation across the eye primordium. This chapter will also discuss the means by which the initiation of the furrow is restricted to a single point along the posterior margin.


Posterior Margin Imaginal Disc Morphogenetic Furrow Cell Cycle Synchronization Posterior Center 
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 would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our understanding of the mechanisms that regulate the initiation and progression of the morphogenetic furrow. I would like to also apologize to anyone whose work is not cited here. This work was supported by a grant from the National Eye Institute (R01 EY4863) to Justin P. Kumar.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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