The experiment that demonstrates this developmental commitment is to take an imaginal disc from a third instar larva, about to undergo pupation, and subdivide it and culture it in the body of a younger larva. Discs can be continuously cultured this way for many larval generations. When such a cultured disc is eventually implanted in the body of a larva that is allowed to pupate, the disc will develop into the structure it was originally determined to become. That is, an antenna disc can be cultured this way and will, almost always, become an antenna (out of place, of course) when final development is triggered by pupation.
The study of imaginal discs in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster led to the discovery of homeotic mutations such as antennapedia, where the developmental fate of a disc could sometimes change. It is of great interest that the kinds of developmental switches that occur are very specific, leg to antenna for instance. Study of this phenomenon led to the discovery of the homeobox genes, and started a revolution in the understanding of development in multi-celled animals that is still underway.
The Effects of Weak Genetic Perturbations on the Transcriptome of the Wing Imaginal Disc and Its Association with Wing Shape in Drosophila Melanogaster
Apr 01, 2011; ABSTRACT A major objective of genomics is to elucidate the mapping between genotypic and phenotypic space as a step toward...
Dynamical Analysis of the Regulatory Network Defining the Dorsal-Ventral Boundary of the Drosophila Wing Imaginal Disc
Nov 01, 2006; ABSTRACT The larval development of the Drosophila melanogaster wings is organized by the protein Wingless, which is secreted by...