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, 212 (1), 71-85

Development and Differentiation of the Eye in Platynereis Dumerilii (Annelida, Polychaeta)


Development and Differentiation of the Eye in Platynereis Dumerilii (Annelida, Polychaeta)

Birgit Rhode. J Morphol.


The nereid polychaete, Platynereis dumerilii, possess two pairs of post-trochophoral eyes with one vitreous body each. The development of these eyes has first been observed in 2-day-old larvae. Whether the eye anlagen arise from stem cells or from undifferentiated ectodermal tissue was not determined. At first, the anlagen of the anterior and the posterior eyes adjoin each other. They separate in late 3-day-old larvae. The first separated eye complexes consist each of two supporting and two sensory cells. The supporting cells synthesize two different kinds of granules, the pigment granules of the pigment cup and the prospective tubules of the vitreous body. These tubules accumulate in the distal process of the supporting cell. The vitreous body is formed by compartments of the supporting cells filled with the osmiophilic vitreous body tubules. The short, bulbar photosensory processes bear microvilli that emerge into the ocular cavity. At the apex of each sensory cell process, a single cilium (or occasionally two) arises. The sensory cells contain a different kind of pigment granule within their necks at the level of the pigment cup. The rate of eye development and differentiation varies. New supporting cells are added to the rim of the eye cup. They contribute to the periphery of the vitreous body like onion skins, and sensory cells move between supporting cells. The older the individual compartments of the vitreous body are, the more densely packed is their content of vitreous body tubules. Elongation of the sensory and supporting cell processes of the older cells increases the volume of the eye. The eyespots of the trochophore are briefly described as of the two-celled rhabdomeric type with a single basal body with ciliary rootlet.

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