About this Research Topic
The extreme diversity of the Insecta is largely based on their ability over evolutionary time to develop unique biological functions that allow them to adapt to a number of diverse environments such as the extreme niches of arid deserts and the frigid polar regions. As a consequence, it has frequently been said that insects, not humans, are the dominant life form on Earth. The driver of many of these adaptive traits is their underlying phenotypic plasticity as the degree to which a phenotype changes depends on environmental factors. Examples of environmental influence on living strategy and phenotypic plasticity include: 1) metamorphosis, which causes dramatic changes in form and function, 2) dormancy, which allows organisms the temporal flexibility to tolerate unsuitable environments, 3) multiplicity of feeding styles and reproductive methods, and 4) chemical communication using species-specific pheromones.
In recent years, surprising progress has been made in the technological innovations underlying biological research. Improvements in DNA sequencing techniques have made it possible to compare the genetic variation of life at the level of the genome itself. The development of visualization techniques using fluorescent proteins, like green fluorescent protein, as molecular markers has made it possible to study in real time the intracellular localizations and dynamics of proteins in living cells. Transposons such as piggyBac have expanded the range of insects amenable to transgenic germline transformation beyond the classic drosophilid species. And, recent advances in RNA interference methods provide the ability to analyze in vivo gene functionality in both model and non-model organisms. Taken together, these innovations have greatly facilitated scientific research into elucidating the molecular mechanisms governing the adaptive changes to insect-specific growth, development, reproduction and metabolism that have allowed insects to populate every conceivable niche. This research topic will cover all aspects of insect physiology, in particular the latent topics reinforcing on the issues including phenotypic plasticity. As such, all papers addressing this fascinating multi-disciplinary topic are widely welcome for submission.
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