Direct-developing sea urchins and the evolutionary reorganization of early development

Bioessays. 1992 Apr;14(4):211-8. doi: 10.1002/bies.950140403.


The evolution of development can be made accessible to study by exploiting closely related species that exhibit distinct ontogenies. The direct-developing sea urchin Heliocidaris erythrogramma is closely related to indirect-developing sea urchins that develop via a feeding larval stage. Superficial consideration would suggest that simple heterochronies resulting in loss of larval features and acceleration of adult features could explain the substitution of direct for indirect development. However, our experiments show that early development has in fact been extensively remodeled, with modified localization of maternal determinants coupled with dissociation of cell cleavage from axis formation resulting in novel patterns of cell lineage differentiation and fate map. Gene expression has undergone concomitant changes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Morphogenesis / genetics
  • Sea Urchins / embryology*