Development and evolution of insect pigmentation: genetic mechanisms and the potential consequences of pleiotropy

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2009 Feb;20(1):65-71. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2008.10.002. Epub 2008 Oct 14.


Insect pigmentation is a premier model system in evolutionary and developmental biology. It has been at the heart of classical studies as well as recent breakthroughs. In insects, pigments are produced by epidermal cells through a developmental process that includes pigment patterning and synthesis. Many aspects of this process also impact other phenotypes, including behavior and immunity. This review discusses recent work on the development and evolution of insect pigmentation, with a focus on pleiotropy and its effects on color pattern diversification.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Insecta / genetics*
  • Insecta / immunology
  • Insecta / metabolism*
  • Pigmentation / physiology*