The cell lineage of a polyclad turbellarian embryo reveals close similarity to coelomate spiralians

Barbara C. Boyer, Jonathan J. Henry, Mark Q. Martindale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent molecular evidence suggests the turbellarian Platyhelminthes may represent the extant basal members of the Spiralia and therefore probably exhibit ancient features of the spiralian developmental program. The stereotypic quartet spiral cleavage pattern of the polyclad turbellarian embryo, among other features, indicates that this group may be closely related to the ancestral flatworm; however, polyclad embryos have been the subject of few experimental studies. Here we report the results of a cell lineage analysis of the embryo of the polyclad Hoploplana inquilina based on microinjection of DiI into cleavage-stage blastomeres following formation of each of the four quartets of micromeres. The first quartet gives rise to most of the lateral and anterior ectoderm of the Muller's larva; the second quartet forms largely dorsal and ventral ectoderm as well as the circular muscles; the third quartet forms only small clones of ectoderm; and only the 4d cell of the fourth quartet contributes to larval structure, forming the longitudinal muscles, mesenchyme, and probably endoderm. Our results demonstrate a striking similarity between the cell lineages of polyclad and higher spiralian embryos, in which the four quadrants also bear the same relationships to the larval axes and give rise to comparable larval structures, including derivation of mesoderm from both ectodermal (2b) and endodermal precursors (4d).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-123
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 1998


  • Cell lineage
  • Developmental evolution
  • Polyclad
  • Spiralia
  • Turbellaria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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