Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name



Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Aleksandar Popadic


Pigmentation is one of the most diverse and distinguishable features of insect morphology. The most prominent colors observed in insects are black or brown, whose production is attributed to the melanin pathway. At present, though, the contribution of this pathway to overall body pigmentation throughout ontogenesis is still lacking. To address this question we examined the roles of four key melanin genes (TH, DDC, ebony, and aaNAT), in embryonic and post-embryonic development of Periplaneta americana. Our results show show that while the melanin pathway plays no role during the earliest nymphal stages, it is required during the later stages of development. In addition, each of the four genes contributes in a distinct way to generate full body or region specific pigmentation patterns. Overall, these findings bring novel insight into the insect pigmentation mechanisms and establish Periplaneta as a suitable model for future melanin studies.

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Biology Commons