The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 44: 499 - 506 (2000)

Vol 44, Issue 5

Comparative approach to developmental analysis: the case of the dalyellid flatworm, Gieysztoria superba

Published: 30 November -0001

A Younossi-Hartenstein and V Hartenstein

Department of Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, Los Angeles 90095, USA.


Dalyellida represents a taxon of small rhabdocoel flatworms that occur in freshwater habitats all over the world. Combining histology and electron microscopy we have analyzed the embryonic development of a new dalyellid species, Gieysztoria superba, in order to obtain more comparative data pertaining to morphogenesis and organogenesis in flatworms. We have used a morphological staging system that we recently introduced for another rhabdocoel, Mesostoma lingua (Younossi-Hartenstein et al., 2000). Our data show that in many fundamental respects, such as the irregular cleavage, mesenchymal embryonic primordium, and lack of gastrulation movements, Gieysztoria is highly similar to Mesostoma. During cleavage (stages 1 and 2) the embryo is located in the center of the egg where it is surrounded by a layer of yolk cells. Cleavage leads up to a solid, disc shaped cell cluster. During stage 3, the embryo migrates to the ventral side of the egg and acquires bilateral symmetry. Stages 4/5 sees the emergence of the first organ primordia, the brain, epidermis and pharynx. A peculiar invagination of the epidermal layer pushes the embryo back into the center of the yolk ("embryonic invagination"). Organogenesis takes place during stages 5 and 6 while the embryo is invaginated. A junctional complex, consisting initially of small septate junctions, followed later by a more apically located zonula adherens, is formed in all epithelial tissues, including epidermis, protonephridia, and pharynx. During late stages (6-8), Gieysztoria embryos evert back to the surface where the epidermal primordium expands and grows around the yolk to close dorsally. During this phase of development cytodifferentiation of the different organ systems takes place. Stage 7 is characterized by the appearance of eye pigmentation, brain condensation and spindle shaped myocytes. Stage 8 describes the fully dorsally closed and differentiated embryo. In comparison to other rhabdocoels, including Mesostoma, Gieysztoria exhibits a precocious differentiation of an intestinal epithelium and male genital apparatus. In Mesostoma, these structures are formed post hatching.

Full text in web format is not available for this article. Please download the PDF version.