Genetic Link Between Primitive and Advanced Compound Eyes


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Researchers investigating the development of advanced compound eyes in flies identified three essential genes. Loss of these genes led to development of more primitive eyes. One of these genes is found in the body of insects with a primitive eye, but is not expressed in the eye. When researchers expressed this gene in a primitive eye, an advanced eye developed. This demonstrates how developmental control genes play multiple roles in the body and the outcome depends on the location of expression. This experiment also shows how expression of specific genes can change the shape and function of cells, even leading to the development of complex organs.

HHMI article: “A Fly’s-Eye View of Evolution”
Compound eye structure
Insect Eyes