In both mammals and insects, steroid hormones play a major role in directing the animal's progression through developmental stages. To maximize fitness outcomes, steroid hormone production is regulated by the environmental conditions experienced by the animal. In insects, the steroid hormone ecdysone mediates transitions between developmental stages and is regulated in response to environmental factors such as nutrition. These environmental signals are communicated to the ecdysone-producing gland via the action of neuropeptide and peptide hormone signalling pathways. While some of these pathways have been well characterized, there is evidence to suggest more signalling pathways than has previously been thought function to control ecdysone production, potentially in response to a greater range of environmental conditions. Here, we review the neuropeptide and peptide hormone signalling pathways known to regulate the production of ecdysone in the model genetic insect Drosophila melanogaster, as well as what is known regarding the environmental signals that trigger these pathways. Areas for future research are highlighted that can further contribute to our overall understanding of the complex orchestration of environmental, physiological and developmental cues that together produce a functioning adult organism.
- Drosophila melanogaster