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FIGURE 6.1 Wing pigmentation pattern diversity across higher Diptera. This plate illustrates the diversity of wing pigmentation patterns in the Acalyptratae, a large group of higher Diptera (Cyclorrhapha), which contrasts with the remarkable conservation of shape, dimension ratios, and venation patterns of these wings after >70 million years of evolution.

Pigmentation patterns result from the local conversion of precursor metabolites into pigment deposits by several enzymes (Wittkopp et al., 2003). The expression patterns of these enzymes, generally specified at an advanced developmental stage when the overall morphology closely resembles the adult layout, are the blueprints of the visible pigmentation patterns (Wittkopp et al., 2002a). Therefore, understanding how the expression patterns of the genes encoding these enzymes are established and change among species is key to understanding the formation and diversification of pigmentation patterns.

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