Embryonic muscle development in direct and indirect developing marine flatworms (Platyhelminthes, Polycladida)


We compared embryonic myogenesis of the direct-developing acotylean polyclad Melloplana ferruginea with that of Maritigrella crozieri, a cotylean that develops via a larval stage. Fluorescently labeled F-actin was visualized with laser confocal microscopy. Developmental times are reported as percentages of the time from oviposition to hatching: 7 days for M. crozieri and 22 days for M. ferruginea. The epithelium began to form at 30% development in M. crozieri and at 15% development in M. ferruginea. Random myoblasts appeared in peripheral areas of the embryo at 36% and 22-30% development in M. crozeri and M. ferruginea, respectively. Circular and longitudinal muscle bands formed synchronously at 37-44% development in M. crozieri; yolk obscured observations of early myogenesis in M. ferruginea. An orthogonal muscle grid was established by 45-50% development in both species. Diagonal muscles developed in M. ferruginea at 60-71% development. Hence, juveniles of this species hatch with the same basic body-wall musculature as adults. Larvae of M. crozieri did not hatch with diagonal muscles; these muscles are acquired postmetamorphosis. Additionally, a specialized musculature developed in the larval lobes of M. crozieri. Oral musculature was complex and established by 72% development in both species. Our results are comparable to the muscle differentiation reported for other indirect-developing polyclads and for direct-developing species of macrostomid flatworms. Furthermore, they provide additional support that the orthogonal muscle pattern of circular and longitudinal muscles is a symplesiomorphy of Spiralia.

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Evolution & development



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