Postembryonic hematopoiesis in Drosophila

Dev Biol. 2001 Feb 15;230(2):243-57. doi: 10.1006/dbio.2000.0123.


We have investigated the blood cell types present in Drosophila at postembryonic stages and have analysed their modifications during development and under immune conditions. The anterior lobes of the larval hematopoietic organ or lymph gland contain numerous active secretory cells, plasmatocytes, few crystal cells, and a number of undifferentiated prohemocytes. The posterior lobes contain essentially prohemocytes. The blood cell population in larval hemolymph differs and consists mainly of plasmatocytes which are phagocytes, and of a low percentage of crystal cells which reportedly play a role in humoral melanisation. We show that the cells in the lymph gland can differentiate into a given blood cell lineage when solicited. Under normal nonimmune conditions, we observe a massive differentiation into active macrophages at the onset of metamorphosis in all lobes. Simultaneously, circulating plasmatocytes modify their adhesion and phagocytic properties to become pupal macrophages. All phagocytic cells participate in metamorphosis by ingesting doomed larval tissues. The most dramatic effect on larval hematopoiesis was observed following infestation by a parasitoid wasp. Cells within all lymph gland lobes, including prohemocytes from posterior lobes, massively differentiate into a new cell type specifically devoted to encapsulation, the lamellocyte.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Drosophila / growth & development
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development*
  • Ecdysterone / pharmacology
  • Hematopoiesis / drug effects
  • Hematopoiesis / physiology*
  • Hemocytes / cytology
  • Hemocytes / physiology*
  • Hemocytes / ultrastructure
  • Larva
  • Lymphatic System / cytology
  • Lymphatic System / physiology
  • Lymphatic System / ultrastructure
  • Plasma Cells / cytology
  • Plasma Cells / physiology
  • Pupa
  • beta-Galactosidase / analysis
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics


  • Ecdysterone
  • beta-Galactosidase