468: Dynamics of Drosophila embryonic patterning network perturbed in space and time using microfluidics : Nature
Biochemical networks are perturbed both by fluctuations in environmental conditions and genetic variation. These perturbations must be compensated for, especially when they occur during embryonic pattern formation. Complex chemical reaction networks displaying spatiotemporal dynamics have been controlled and understood by perturbing their environment in space and time1, 2, 3. Here, we apply this approach using microfluidics to investigate the robust network in Drosophila melanogaster that compensates for variation in the Bicoid morphogen gradient. We show that the compensation system can counteract the effects of extremely unnatural environmental conditions—a temperature step—in which the anterior and posterior halves of the embryo are developing at different temperatures and thus at different rates. Embryonic patterning was normal under this condition, suggesting that a simple reciprocal gradient system is not the mechanism of compensation.
This means there must be some sort of backup system. The primary means of pattern formation evolved, then backups developed because individuals with the backup system were less likely to have offspring which developed wrong. By looking across insects it may be possible to identify the origin of the different systems and their evolution.