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Science 330 (6011): 1693-1695

Copyright © 2010 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

The Cellular and Physiological Mechanism of Wing-Body Scaling in Manduca sexta

H. Frederik Nijhout*, and Laura W. Grunert

Abstract: In animals, appendages develop in proportion to overall body size; when individual size varies, appendages covary proportionally. In insects with complete metamorphosis, adult appendages develop from precursor tissues called imaginal disks that grow after somatic growth has ceased. It is unclear, however, how the growth of these appendages is matched to the already established body size. We studied the pattern of cell division in the tobacco hornworm Manduca sexta and found that both the rate of cell division and the duration of growth of the wing imaginal disks depend on the size of the body in which they develop. Moreover, we found that both of these processes are controlled by the level and duration of secretion of the steroid hormone ecdysone. Thus, proportional growth is under hormonal control and indirectly regulated by the central nervous system.

Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, NC 27705, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: hfn{at}

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