Insect Hormones and the Regulation of Genetic Activity

  • Geoff Richards
  • Michael Ashburner


The path to a fundamental understanding of the mechanism of action of hormones has been, and remains, tortuous, and we should look upon our contemporary beliefs with sobriety rather than with extravagant enthusiasm. The hormones of the insects present a particular challenge since their effects are both dramatic and complex. Few can have failed to wonder at the metamorphosis of a butterfly. This marvelous event is controlled by a small number of hormones, the most important of which, juvenile hormone and the ecdysteroid hormones, are chemically simple. The transformation of a caterpillar into the winged butterfly, and similar events in the life cycles of most insects, demands the complete restructuring of the animal and of all its tissues. The complete metamorphosis of the butterflies and moths, of the flies, beetles, ants, and bees allows, of course, these species to inhabit quite different environments as larval and adult forms. This means that, in addition to the morphological transformation that is so obvious to the eye, metamorphosis may involve a complete restructuring of the animal’s physiology and behavior.


Salivary Gland Juvenile Hormone Polytene Chromosome Malpighian Tubule Prothoracic Gland 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoff Richards
    • 1
  • Michael Ashburner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeneticsUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeEngland

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