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Open Access Research article

Expression of collier in the premandibular segment of myriapods: support for the traditional Atelocerata concept or a case of convergence?

Ralf Janssen1*, Wim GM Damen2 and Graham E Budd1

Author Affiliations

1 Uppsala University, Department of Earth Sciences, Villavägen 16, 752 36 Uppsala, Sweden

2 Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Department of Genetics, Philosophenweg 12, 07743 Jena, Germany

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2011, 11:50  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-50

Published: 24 February 2011

Abstract

Background

A recent study on expression and function of the ortholog of the Drosophila collier (col) gene in various arthropods including insects, crustaceans and chelicerates suggested a de novo function of col in the development of the appendage-less intercalary segment of insects. However, this assumption was made on the background of the now widely-accepted Pancrustacea hypothesis that hexapods represent an in-group of the crustaceans. It was therefore assumed that the expression of col in myriapods would reflect the ancestral state like in crustaceans and chelicerates, i.e. absence from the premandibular/intercalary segment and hence no function in its formation.

Results

We find that col in myriapods is expressed at early developmental stages in the same anterior domain in the head, the parasegment 0, as in insects. Comparable early expression of col is not present in the anterior head of an onychophoran that serves as an out-group species closely related to the arthropods.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest either that i) the function of col in head development has been conserved between insects and myriapods, and that these two classes of arthropods may be closely related supporting the traditional Atelocerata (or Tracheata) hypothesis; or ii) alternatively col function could have been lost in early head development in crustaceans, or may indeed have evolved convergently in insects and myriapods.