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Surviving embryogenesis: The extraembryonic serosa protects the insect egg against desiccation and infection

Promotor: Prof.dr. H.P. Spaink, Co-promotor: Dr. M. van der Zee

C.G.C. Jacobs
04 december 2014
Thesis in Leiden Repository

Insects are the most diverse group of animals on earth. They inhabit nearly all terrestrial habitats. One of the factors underlying this success is the ability of insect eggs to survive in adverse conditions. For a long time the ability to survive these adverse conditions has been attributed to maternal investment in the form of a protective eggshell. In this thesis, I show that contrary to common belief, insect eggs are far from helpless. The insect egg itself develops a cellular layer around the egg called the serosa. This serosa protects the developing embryo from dehydration which enables it to survive in dry habitats. The serosa furthermore protects against infection, mounting an impressive immune response upon the entry of bacteria in the egg. The data presented in this thesis show the importance of the serosa in the survival of the insect egg. I propose that this multifunctional serosa contributed to the great success of insects.

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