The atokous-epitokous border is determined before the onset of heteronereid development in Platynereis dumerilii (Annelida, Polychaeta)

Rouxs Arch Dev Biol. 1989 May;198(1):29-33. doi: 10.1007/BF00376367.


In most nereids sexual maturation is accompanied by a dramatic reorganization of the body that enables swarming of the formerly benthic worms. However, a border exists between unchanged anterior (atokous) and metamorphosed posterior (epitokous) segments. The site of this atokous-epitokous border (a/e border) is different in sexually mature males and females of Platynereis dumerilii. There is no correlation between the total number of setigerous segments of a specimen and the location of the a/e border. The location of the a/e border and sexual development are affected neither by cutting off caudal segments of juveniles (including the prospective a/e border) nor by transecting the ventral nerve cord. When parapodia are transplanted from prospective epitokous regions to prospective atokous regions and vice versa, they maintain their original character during metamorphosis. The results presented here suggest that prospective atokous as well as epitokous characters are determined at or only very shortly after formation of the respective segments. Thus the a/e border is established well in advance of the onset of epitokous metamorphosis.

Keywords: Epitokous metamorphosis; Nereidae; Regeneration.