Wing polymorphism contributes significantly to the success of a wide variety of insects. However, its underlying molecular mechanism is less well understood. The migratory planthopper (BPH), Nilaparvata lugens, is one of the most extensively studied insects for wing polymorphism, due to its natural features of short- and long-winged morphs. Using the BPH as an example, we first surveyed the environmental cues that possibly influence wing developmental plasticity. Second, we explained the molecular basis by which two insulin receptors (InR1 and InR2) act as switches to determine alternative wing morphs in the BPH. This finding provides an additional layer of regulatory mechanism underlying wing polymorphism in insects in addition to juvenile hormones. Further, based on a discrete domain structure between InR1 and InR2 across insect species, we discussed the potential roles by which they might contribute to insect polymorphism. Last, we concluded with future directions of disentangling the insulin signalling pathway in the BPH, which serves as an ideal model for studying wing developmental plasticity in insects.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘Evo-devo in the genomics era, and the origins of morphological diversity’.
One contribution of 17 to a theme issue ‘Evo-devo in the genomics era, and the origins of morphological diversity’.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3571020.
- Accepted June 14, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.