A review of the hexapod tracheal system with a focus on the apterygote groups
Respiratory systems are key innovations for the radiation of terrestrial arthropods. It is therefore surprising that there is still a considerable lack of knowledge. In this review of the available information on tracheal systems of hexapods (with a focus on the apterygote lineages Protura, Collembola, Diplura, Archaeognatha and Zygentoma), we summarize available data on the spiracles (number, position and morphology), the shape and variability of tracheal branching patterns including anastomoses, the tracheal fine structure and the respiratory proteins. The available data are strongly fragmented, and information for most subgroups is missing. In various cases, individual observations for one species account for the knowledge of the entire order. The available data show that there are strong differences between but also within apterygote orders. We conclude that the available data are insufficient to derive detailed conclusions on the hexapod ground plan and outline the possible evolutionary scenarios for the tracheal system in this group.