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Vestigial ophiopluteal structures in the lecithotrophic larvae of Ophionereis schayeri (Ophiuroidea)
Selvakumaraswamy, P.; Byrne, M. (2000). Vestigial ophiopluteal structures in the lecithotrophic larvae of Ophionereis schayeri (Ophiuroidea). Biol. Bull. 198(3): 379-386
In: Biological Bulletin. Marine Biological Laboratory: Lancaster. ISSN 0006-3185, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Selvakumaraswamy, P.
  • Byrne, M.

    Evolution of echinoderm development from a feeding to a non-feeding mode can be examined by studying non-feeding larvae with structures that appear to be vestiges derived from a feeding ancestral state. The lecithotrophic larvae of the Australian brittle star Ophionereis schayeri possess such features, and the early development of this species was documented by light and scanning electron microscopy. The embryos undergo irregular cleavage, resulting in the formation of different sized blastomeres, with subsequent development through a wrinkled blastula stage. The lecithotrophic larva of O. schayeri possesses several vestigial ophiopluteal structures, including a continuous ciliated band, a larval gut, and a larval skeleton. The ciliated band is a reduced expression of the continuous ciliated band typical of ophioplutei. The larval gut is a transiently complete system, but an esophageal plug and rapid closure of the blastopore renders it nonfunctional. The larval skeleton, though reduced, consists of four rods corresponding to the body, posterolateral, anterolateral, and postoral rods char-acteristic of an ophiopluteus. Due to a heterochrony in larval skeletogenesis, the postoral rods develop early and simultaneously with the other rods. Compared with the larvae of other lecithotrophic ophiuroids, the larva of O. schayeri is one of the most reduced ophiopluteal forms reported to date.

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