Imaginal discs regulate developmental timing in Drosophila melanogaster

Dev Biol. 2008 Sep 1;321(1):18-26. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2008.05.556. Epub 2008 Jun 9.


The regulation of body size in animals involves mechanisms that terminate growth. In holometabolous insects growth ends at the onset of metamorphosis and is contingent on their reaching a critical size in the final larval instar. Despite the importance of critical size in regulating final body size, the developmental mechanisms regulating critical size are poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that the developing adult organs, called imaginal discs, are a regulator of critical size in larval Drosophila. We show that damage to, or slow growth of, the imaginal discs is sufficient to retard metamorphosis both by increasing critical size and extending the period between attainment of critical size and metamorphosis. Nevertheless, larvae with damaged and slow growing discs metamorphose at the same size as wild-type larvae. In contrast, complete removal of all imaginal tissue has no effect on critical size. These data indicate that both attainment of critical size and the timely onset of metamorphosis are regulated by the imaginal discs in Drosophila, and suggest that the termination of growth is coordinated among growing tissues to ensure that all organs attain a characteristic final size.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Size
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / radiation effects
  • Female
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Larva / physiology
  • Larva / radiation effects
  • RNA Interference
  • Ribosomal Proteins / genetics
  • Time Factors
  • Wings, Animal / growth & development
  • X-Rays


  • Insulin
  • Ribosomal Proteins
  • ribosomal protein S3