Visual system development: Invertebrates

P. R. Hiesinger, I. A. Meinertzhagen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


In contrast to vertebrates, visual system development in most invertebrate groups commences with photoreceptor differentiation in an ectodermal epithelium. Photoreceptors, of both ciliary and rhabdomeric types in different invertebrates, differentiate under the control of the Pax6 gene, mostly independently of the nerve centers they innervate. Visual centers in the brain are highly developed in some forms, especially in arthropods and cephalopods. Most studies examine the compound eyes of the fruit fly. Drosophila melanogaster, to the unwarranted neglect of other deserving groups. The same is true for the development of neuronal connections within the visual centers in the brain, which generally occurs in a wave, with retinotopic projections often establishing chiasmata. Our understanding of many aspects of invertebrate visual system development must also encompass knowledge of eyes as diverse as, for example, the highly developed single-lens eyes of cephalopods, or ancestral eyecup eyes in forms such as planaria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Neuroscience
PublisherElsevier Ltd
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9780080450469
StatePublished - 2009


  • Axon pathfinding
  • Chiasma
  • Compound eye
  • Delamination
  • Drosophila melanogaster;Eye
  • Invagination
  • Invertebrates
  • Ommatidium
  • Synaptic specificity
  • Visual system development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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