The crustacean Parhyale hawaiensis: a new model for arthropod development. Academic Article uri icon


  • The great diversity of arthropod body plans, together with our detailed understanding of fruit fly development, makes arthropods a premier taxon for examining the evolutionary diversification of developmental patterns and hence the diversity of extant life. Crustaceans, in particular, show a remarkable range of morphologies and provide a useful outgroup to the insects. The amphipod crustacean Parhyale hawaiensis is becoming established as a model organism for developmental studies within the arthropods. In addition to its phylogenetically strategic position, P. hawaiensis has proven to be highly amenable to experimental manipulation, is straightforward to rear in the laboratory, and has large numbers of embryos that are available year-round. A detailed staging system has been developed to characterize P. hawaiensis embryogenesis. Robust protocols exist for the collection and fixation of all embryonic stages, in situ hybridization to study mRNA localization, and immunohistochemistry to study protein localization. Microinjection of blastomeres enables detailed cell-lineage analyses, transient and transgenic introduction of recombinant genetic material, and targeted knockdowns of gene function using either RNA interference (RNAi) or morpholino methods. Directed genome sequencing will generate important data for comparative studies aimed at understanding cis-regulatory evolution. Bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones containing genes of interest to the developmental and evolutionary biology communities are being targeted for sequencing. An expressed sequence tag (EST) database will facilitate discovery of additional developmental genes and should broaden our understanding of the genetic controls of body patterning. A reference genome from the related amphipod crustacean Jassa slatteryi will shortly be available.

publication date

  • January 2009