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, 118 (2), 556-76

The Ontogeny and Maintenance of Adult Symmetry Properties in the Ctenophore, Mnemiopsis McCradyi

The Ontogeny and Maintenance of Adult Symmetry Properties in the Ctenophore, Mnemiopsis McCradyi

M Q Martindale. Dev Biol.


Ctenophores are biradially symmetrical animals. The body is composed of four identical quadrants which are organized along an oral-aboral axis. Most species have eight comb rows, two tentacles, and an apical organ (located on the aboral surface). During embryogenesis there is a fixed pattern of cleavage, a precocious specification of blastomere developmental potential, and an inability to regulate for portions of the embryo that have been removed. When blastomeres are separated at the two-cell stage each blastomere develops into a "half-animal" with four comb rows, one tentacle, and half an apical organ. In contrast, adult ctenophores regenerate readily. When an adult ctenophore is cut in half to produce "half-animals," in most cases each half regenerates the missing half. In some cases, however, bisected animals remain as "half-animals" which repair the wound site but do not replace all of the missing structures. When animals are cut in half along the tentacular or esophageal axis at different stages of embryogenesis a transition period is detected when the capacity for adult regeneration begins. This transition occurs at the time when the formation of the apical organ is complete and comb row function becomes coordinated. Embryos bisected prior to this time remain as "half-animals" even after growing to large reproductive sizes, while animals bisected after the transition period usually regenerate the missing structures within 2-3 days. When adult "half-animals" (produced by bisection either before or after the transition period) are cut into "quarter-pieces," the pieces regenerate to form either "half-animals" or whole animals. Thus, "half-animals" produced prior to the transition period--although they failed to undergo embryonic regulation--have not irreversibly lost the capacity to form whole animals if challenged to regenerate during adult stages. When aboral blastomeres destined to form the apical organ, tentacles, and comb rows are removed from early cleavage stages (prior to the transition period), the embryo does not form these structures at the appropriate time. However, the resulting deficient adults spontaneously form these structures from remaining blastomere lineages soon after hatching. These experiments suggest that as long as some quadrant-specific cells of the oral pole are present at the time of the transition period, the structures of that quadrant will be spontaneously replaced during the adult period.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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