Laura Buttitta, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan
During metamorphosis of certain insects, the morphology of the larva is quite different from that of the adult. In the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster), larvae possess disc-like bags of cells that will develop into complete adult structures. These structures, called imaginal discs, will grow into the eyes, antennae and legs of the adult. This photograph shows two pairs of connected discs that will form the eyes (blue, bottom) and antennae (yellow, top); together, they resemble tropical birds. Studying these imaginal discs can teach us about cell growth, differentiation and development of complex organs.