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Insect Metamorphosis - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780128130209, 9780128130216

Insect Metamorphosis

1st Edition

From Natural History to Regulation of Development and Evolution

Author: Xavier Belles
Paperback ISBN: 9780128130209
eBook ISBN: 9780128130216
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 14th March 2020
Page Count: 304
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Insect Metamorphosis: From Natural History to Regulation of Development and Evolution explores the origin of metamorphosis, how it evolved, and how it is it regulated. The book discusses insect metamorphosis as a key innovation in insect evolution. With most of the present biodiversity on Earth composed of metamorphosing insects—approximately 1 million species currently described, with another 10-30 million still waiting to be discovered, the book delves into misconceptions and past treatments. In addition, the topic of integrating insect metamorphosis into the theory of evolution by natural selection as noted by Darwin in his On the Origin of Species is also discussed.

Users will find this to be a comprehensive and updated review on insect metamorphosis, covering biological, physiological and molecular facets, with an emphasis on evolutionary aspects.

Key Features

  • Features updated knowledge from the past decade on the mechanisms of action of juvenile hormone, the main doorkeeper of insect metamorphosis
  • Aids researchers in entomology or developmental biology dealing with specialized aspects of metamorphosis
  • Provides applied entomologists with recently updated data, especially on regulation, to better face the problems of pest control and management
  • Gives general evolutionary biologists context on the process of metamorphosis in its larger scope


Researchers in insect biology in universities and research institutes; university professors of entomology, developmental biology, and life sciences. Experts in insect pest control in the industry sector as well as in the academic sector. Developmental biologists, especially those working with model insects, like Drosophila, and working in post-embryonic development in non-insect models that experience metamorphosis (amphibians, crustaceans, jellyfishes, etc.). Animal morphologists interested in processes that trigger changes of form. Secondary: Amateur entomologists, insect collectors, members of entomological societies. Teachers (elementary, high school) of natural history

Table of Contents

1. The ideas of metamorphosis through time
2. Life cycles and modes of metamorphosis
3. Embryo development and metamorphosis
4. Postembryonic development. Molting
5. Hormones involved in the regulation of metamorphosis
6. Molecular mechanisms of hormonal action
7. The role of microRNAs in the regulation of metamorphosis
8. The origin of hemimetaboly
9. The evolution of metamorphosis


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 2020
14th March 2020
Academic Press
Paperback ISBN:
eBook ISBN:

About the Author

Xavier Belles

Xavier Belles is Research Professor of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). He has been founder (2008) and first director (2008-2016) of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-Pompeu Fabra University), in Barcelona, where he still works. For more than 30 years, he has been studying the evolution of insect metamorphosis. He introduced the cockroach model in metamorphosis research, were he particularly investigated the molecular action of juvenile hormone and the role of microRNAs. He is the proponent of the MEKRE93 pathway, as the universal axis that regulates metamorphosis in insects, and the Broad-complex hypothesis, which explains its evolution. Prolific author, Xavier Belles has published 318 scientific papers and 11 books, and has been awarded the Maurice and Therese Pic Prize (Entomological Society of France, 1985), Scientific Literature Prize (Catalan Foundation for Research, 2003), House of Sciences Award (A Coruña Town Hall, 2009), Narcís Monturiol Medal (Catalan Government, 2019). He is Honorary Member of the Spanish Society for Evolutionary Biology, and Academician of the Institute for Catalan Studies, the Royal Academy of Exact Physical and Natural Sciences of Spain, and the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona.

Affiliations and Expertise

Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-Pompeu Fabra University), Barcelona, Spain


"It is not a text for the whole public, but if you want to understand as deeply as possible the “miracle” of metamorphosis and that the beautiful monarch butterfly that flies thousands of miles is the same individual as the caterpillar that just think about food, this is your book." --Metode

"Insect Metamorphosis begins with a review on the interest that the metamorphosis has awakened throughout the history and scientific attempts to describe and explain it. Xavier Bellés's book is so complete and so multidimensional, that is already and will be for many years a volume essential for all those interested in obtaining a complete view of the evolution, development and function of insects through research on the evolution of their life cycles and, in particular, of metamorphosis." --Bulletin of the Spanish Society of Evolutionary Biology

"As a critical scientist, Belles is well aware that the book answers many important questions on insect metamorphosis, but many are still open, and even more are and will be raised in the coming decades, especially in emergent fields of research, such as epigenetics and comparative genomics. While certainly true, there is one point in which I disagree with Belles, and that is the last sentence of the Epilogue, where he states that “with a bit of luck, we can expect that this book will become outdated pretty soon.” I don't think so, rather, this is a book that I will still want to reread in decades to come." --J Exp Zool (Mol Dev Evol)

"In an honest epilogue the author acknowledges that after reading of a scientific monograph, one is tempted to think that everything has been resolved and answered, but that this is just an illustration Zion. And he is right: in reality, in science nothing is truly definitive and matters so substantial, complex and at the same time important such as the metamorphosis of insects has to generate many future research work, many advances and many new questions, although the main ones are being answered you give. It is science, and the explanation of the existence and operation of the most successful way of life, taking into account the customs already quoted from nature, it cannot be simple. Xavier Bellés's book is a landmark. Collect, order, analyze and explains the essential data of this apparent biological miracle (which after reading ceases to be for the most part, although never lose his wonderful side) and the state of knowledge about the theme. There are pending unanswered questions, but a large part of them seem to be doing so satisfactorily. And this is magnificent. Although there are moments of a certain hardness in the reading. For those who are not versed in certain technical aspects, the final effort is worth it in the form of enormous gratification intellectual. Of course, for anyone interested or studious in these themes the book, as can easily be guessed, becomes basic and essential.

The depth and interdisciplinarity of the data provided, sometimes "Without mercy towards the reader", make it a source of knowledge with impact not only on the theoretical knowledge of the process of molting and development, but also to know in more detail and arguments the Phylogenetic relationships between the various groups of insects. This work is a very useful update for the teacher or student of Entomology, and especially for all those researchers in the field of Biochemistry, Physiology or Genetics, concerned with the knowledge detailed mechanisms that are at the base of the development of the insects. It provides tools and the path that allows you to find the appropriate ways to control specific pests through actions and thus avoid the dire consequences that massive and nonspecific treatments have on Biodiversity that are still used today." --Boletín de la Sociedad Entomológica Aragonesa (S.E.A.)

"Metaphorphosis, especially in its complete form, is one of the most striking phenomena in the whole of biology. In this excellent new book, Xavier Belles, from the CSIC/UPF Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, tackles insect metamorphosis with a special emphasis on molecular cell biology, but also relates this to the biological processes that are initiated and regulated by the hormonal and cell signalling pathways he describes. Belles is an expert on this. An important note, however, is that Belles own research concerns metamorphosis in hemimetabolic insects (i.e. those that undergo incomplete metamorphosis and don't have a pupal stage). This gives him a special perspective on the evolution of complete metamorphosis (i.e. that undergone by holometabolous insects). One of the take home messages of the book is that the same singalling pathways is present in both kinds of insects and has been adopted during evolution by the holometabolous insects for their own purposes with only minor adaptations. The resulting book is very good indeed. Its publication is an important event for entomolgy because it is the first attempt for many years to bring together in one place everything that is known about insect metamorphosis. It should certaintly be in the library of every institutution where insect science is studied." --Antenna

"In all, Belles' rigorous approach, based on comparative endocrinology, invites a revisitation of these kinds of evidence by highlighting their promise in providing new insights into old questions related to the origins of insect metamorphosis. While a detailed reconstruction of the evolution of insect metamorphosis is still a target for future research, with this book, and the work it discusses, a consensus appears to be emerging: the evolution of insect metamorphosis has mainly proceeded through deviation of preadult stages rather than by terminal addition of new stages." --Wiley Online Library

"The accumulation of knowledge can be mentioned. In that sense as well, the publication of a book summarizing the molecular mechanism of metamorphosis at this timing seems to be extremely valuable to researchers studying insects. After listing the problems to be solved, finally, "With a bit of luck, we can expect that this book will become." It concludes with "aging pretty soon". Recently, the spread of next-generation sequencers and genome editing technology Advances in gene function analysis technology, including the above, have accelerated molecular biological research using non-model organisms. It seems that research on the molecular mechanism of metamorphosis of various insects is expected to make great progress in the next few years. At the same time, when the second edition of this book is published, their research results will also be (not the abstract of the conference, but a formal theory). It was also a book that made me want to be taken up (as a sentence)." --"Society of Evolutionary Studies" Japan News

"It is not uncommon when reading a book, even when it is intended to be read in its entirety, skip the preface, it should not be neglected in this case because it highlights the breadth of the network of scientists who have helped the author to offer the reader a text "to the last". As it says on the back cover of the book, also in my translation: “Researchers in insect biology, developmental biology, general entomology, students of those fields (and those who want to be up-to-date in the knowledge of Nature, I add) you will find that this book, which covers facets historical, naturalistic, biological, physiological and molecular, with an emphasis on evolutionary, is a complete and updated review of the metamorphosis of insects." --Bibliographic Notes and Reviews

Ratings and Reviews