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Sex-specific evolution of relative leg size in Drosophila prolongata results from changes in the intersegmental coordination of tissue growth

Citation

Luecke, David Michael; Kopp, Artyom (2019), Sex-specific evolution of relative leg size in Drosophila prolongata results from changes in the intersegmental coordination of tissue growth, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.25338/B8303J

Abstract

Evolution of relative organ size is the most prolific source of morphological diversity, yet the underlying molecular mechanisms that modify growth control are largely unknown. Models where organ proportions have undergone recent evolutionary changes hold the greatest promise for understanding this process. Uniquely among Drosophila species, D. prolongata displays a dramatic, male-specific increase in the size of its forelegs relative to other legs. By comparing leg development between males and females of D. prolongata and its closest relative D. carrolli, we show that the exaggerated male forelegs are produced by a sex- and segment-specific increase in mitosis during the final larval instar. Intersegmental compensatory control, where smaller leg primordia grow at a faster rate, is observed in both species and sexes. However, the equlibrium growth rates that determine the final relative proportion between the first and second legs have shifted in male D. prolongata compared both to conspecific females and to D. carrolli. We suggest that the observed developmental changes that produce new adult proportions reflect an interplay between conserved growth coordination mechanisms and evolving organ-specific growth targets.