Size and shape: The developmental regulation of static allometry in insects

Alexander W. Shingleton, W. Anthony Frankino, Thomas Flatt, H. Frederik Nijhout, Douglas J. Emlen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

262 Scopus citations


Among all organisms, the size of each body part or organ scales with overall body size, a phenomenon called allometry. The study of shape and form has attracted enormous interest from biologists, but the genetic, developmental and physiological mechanisms that control allometry and the proportional growth of parts have remained elusive. Recent progress in our understanding of body-size regulation provides a new synthetic framework for thinking about the mechanisms and the evolution of allometric scaling. In particular, insulin/IGF signaling, which plays major roles in longevity, diabetes and the regulation of cell, organ and body size, might also be centrally involved in regulating organismal shape. Here we review recent advances in the fields of growth regulation and endocrinology and use them to construct a developmental model of static allometry expression in insects. This model serves as the foundation for a research program that will result in a deeper understanding of the relationship between growth and form, a question that has fascinated biologists for centuries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-548
Number of pages13
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007


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