As in many other organisms, the blood of Drosophila consists of several types of hemocytes, which originate from the mesoderm. By lineage analyses of transplanted cells, we specified two separate anlagen that give rise to different populations of hemocytes: embryonic hemocytes and lymph gland hemocytes. The anlage of the embryonic hemocytes is restricted to a region within the head mesoderm between 70 and 80% egg length. In contrast to all other mesodermal cells, the cells of this anlage are already determined as hemocytes at the blastoderm stage. Unexpectedly, these hemocytes do not degenerate during late larval stages, but have the capacity to persist through metamorphosis and are still detectable in the adult fly. A second anlage,which gives rise to additional hemocytes at the onset of metamorphosis, is located within the thoracic mesoderm at 50 to 53% egg length. After transplantation within this region, clones were detected in the larval lymph glands. Labeled hemocytes are released by the lymph glands not before the late third larval instar. The anlage of these lymph gland-derived hemocytes is not determined at the blastoderm stage, as indicated by the overlap of clones with other tissues. Our analyses reveal that the hemocytes of pupae and adult flies consist of a mixture of embryonic hemocytes and lymph gland-derived hemocytes,originating from two distinct anlagen that are determined at different stages of development.
In order to reveal syncytia within the visceral musculature of Drosophila melanogaster , we have combined the GAL4/UAS system with the single-cell transplantation technique. After transplantation of single cells from UAS-GFP donor embryos into ubiquitously GAL4-expressing recipients, the expression of the reporter gene was exclusively activated in syncytia containing both donor- and recipient-derived nuclei. In the first trial, we tested the system in the larval somatic musculature, which is already known to consist of syncytia. By this means we could show that most of the larval somatic muscles are generated by clonally non-related cells. Moreover, using this approach we were able to detect syncytia within the visceral musculature – a tissue that has previously been described as consisting of mononuclear cells. Both the longitudinal visceral musculature of the midgut and the circular musculature of the hindgut consist of syncytia and persist through metamorphosis. This novel application of the transplantation technique might be a powerful tool to trace syncytia in any organism using the GAL4/UAS system.