The metabolism of the imaginal discs of wild type, miniature, vestigial, and four-jointed varieties of Drosophila was investigated using the Cartesian diver ultramicrorespirometer. Wild type and vestigial wing disc respiration is inhibited by cyanide and azide and thus is mediated by an iron or copper porphyrin system, presumable cytochrome-cytochrome oxidase. Respiration is also inhibited by certain hydroxynaphthoquinones, believed to inactivate some enzyme between cytochromes b and c. The respiration of the vestigial and miniature wing discs is increased to normal by the addition of ascorbic acid and to a lesser extent by p-phenylenediamine and hydroquinone, hence the cytochrome oxidase and cytochrome c systems of vestigial and miniature wing discs are normal and the effects of these genes are on enzymes below cytochrome c in the respiratory chain.
The respiratory enzymes of the developing imaginal discs of insects are similar to those of a wide variety of cells from bacteria to mammals. The correlation of these biochemical findings with embryological studies of the discs is discussed.