© Abderrahman KHILA / IGFL / CNRS Images



Patineurs d'eau ou punaises d'eau, "Rhagovelia", à la surface de l’eau

Water striders, or rhagovelia, on the surface of the water. Water-repellent hairs on the legs of these insects enable to move across water. They are also able to travel upstream along rivers, with the aid of fan-shaped structures on the tips of their second pair of legs, which they use as swimming fins. As these fans exist in rhagovelias alone, they offer a good model for studying the emergence of so-called "new" structures (evolutionary innovations). These water striders have two hitherto unknown genes that must be expressed in order for the legs to develop with an intact fan. One of these genes is of early origin, as it is present in the common ancestor of all heteroptera bugs, whereas the second gene is more recent, existing in rhagovelia alone. The striking similarity between the two genes suggests that a genetic mutation may have given rise to the more recent gene by duplication of the ancestral one.

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