Generation and Evolution of Neural Cell Types and Circuits: Insights from the Drosophila Visual System

Michael Perry, Nikos Konstantinides, Filipe Pinto-Teixeira, Claude Desplan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The Drosophila visual system has become a premier model for probing how neural diversity is generated during development. Recent work has provided deeper insight into the elaborate mechanisms that control the range of types and numbers of neurons produced, which neurons survive, and how they interact. These processes drive visual function and influence behavioral preferences. Other studies are beginning to provide insight into how neuronal diversity evolved in insects by adding new cell types and modifying neural circuits. Some of the most powerful comparisons have been those made to the Drosophila visual system, where a deeper understanding of molecular mechanisms allows for the generation of hypotheses about the evolution of neural anatomy and function. The evolution of new neural types contributes additional complexity to the brain and poses intriguing questions about how new neurons interact with existing circuitry. We explore how such individual changes in a variety of species might play a role over evolutionary timescales. Lessons learned from the fly visual system apply to other neural systems, including the fly central brain, where decisions are made and memories are stored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-577
Number of pages77
JournalAnnual Review of Genetics
StatePublished - Nov 27 2017


  • Cell fate
  • Development
  • Evolution
  • Neural diversity
  • Neuropil evolution
  • Temporal series

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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