Development of the genitalia in Drosophila melanogaster

Differentiation. 2003 Aug;71(6):299-310. doi: 10.1046/j.1432-0436.2003.03017.x.


The imaginal discs of Drosophila melanogaster are an excellent material with which to analyze how signaling pathways and Hox genes control growth and pattern formation. The study of one of these discs, the genital disc, offers, in addition, the possibility of integrating the sex determination pathway into this analysis. This disc, whose growth and shape are sexually dimorphic, gives rise to the genitalia and analia, the more posterior structures of the fruit fly. Male genitalia, which develop from the ninth abdominal segment, and female genitalia, which develop mostly from the eighth one, display a characteristic array of structures. We will review here some recent findings about the development of these organs. As in other discs, different signaling pathways establish the positional information in the genital primordia. The Hox and sex determination genes modify these signaling routes at different levels to specify the particular growth and differentiation of male and female genitalia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development*
  • Female
  • Genes, Homeobox
  • Genes, Insect
  • Genitalia / growth & development*
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sex Determination Processes
  • Sex Differentiation
  • Signal Transduction