The polychaete Platynereis dumerilii (Annelida): a laboratory animal with spiralian cleavage, lifelong segment proliferation and a mixed benthic/pelagic life cycle

Bioessays. 2004 Mar;26(3):314-25. doi: 10.1002/bies.10409.


Platynereis dumerilii, a marine polychaetous annelid with indirect development, can be continuously bred in the laboratory. Here, we describe its spectacular reproduction and development and address a number of open research problems. Oogenesis is easily studied because the oocytes grow while floating in the coelom. Unlike the embryos of other model spiralians, the Platynereis embryo is transparent giving insight into the dynamic structures and processes inside the cells that accompany the prevailing anisotropic cleavages. Functional studies on cell specification and differential gene expression in embryos, larvae, and later stages are underway. Lifelong proliferation of uniform trunk segments qualifies Platynereis as a model for the study of gene expression and of the functional circuitry of this process. Platynereis can also become a stepping stone in the comparison of segmentation between annelids and arthropods because it comes closer to the putative ancestral morphology and style of development than other model annelids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Laboratory*
  • Body Patterning*
  • Female
  • Larva / anatomy & histology
  • Larva / physiology
  • Life Cycle Stages / physiology*
  • Male
  • Oocytes / physiology
  • Polychaeta / anatomy & histology*
  • Polychaeta / embryology
  • Polychaeta / genetics
  • Polychaeta / physiology*