How stem cells produce the huge diversity of neurons that form the visual system, and how these cells are assembled in neural circuits are a critical question in developmental neurobiology. Investigations in Drosophila have led to the discovery of several basic principles of neural patterning. In this chapter, we provide an overview of the field by describing the development of the Drosophila visual system, from the embryo to the adult and from the gross anatomy to the cellular level. We then explore the general molecular mechanisms identified that might apply to other neural structures in flies or in vertebrates. Finally, we discuss the major challenges that remain to be addressed in the field.
Keywords: Central brain; Drosophila; Neural development; Neural stem cell; Neuroblasts; Neurogenesis; Neuronal diversity; Optic lobe; Visual system.
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