A model for germ cell development in a fully segmented worm.

Mercedes Maceren-Pates, Yoshihisa Kurita, Gaudioso Pates Jr., Michiyasu Yoshikuni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Polychaetes are segmented marine worms with body segments separated by a complete or incomplete septum. In most polychaetes the whole body cavity is filled with gametes during the breeding season. Platynereis dumerilii (Pl. dumerilii), which has an incomplete septum was shown to develop a single gonadal structure for gamete production located in the neck region. However, in Perinereis nuntia (Pe. nuntia), which has a complete septum separating each segment, the developmental feature of gametes remains unknown. To clarify this, the marker gene vasa was used to trace the development of germ cells throughout the life stages of Pe. nuntia.
In three-segmented juveniles, Pn-vasa was expressed in the parapodia and in the two cells localized in the pygidium. During the addition of a new segment, Pn-vasa positive cells in the pygidium increased from two to four and two new Pn-vasa positive cells were found in the newly-generated segment. In adults, Pn-vasa was expressed in a large cell cluster at the distal end of the parapodia, in smaller cell clusters (which had an elongated form in the trunk area of the parapodia), and in oocytes in the coelomic cavity. This may suggest that germ cells settle in the parapodia and later translocate into the coelomic cavity to develop into oocytes.
Our observations will help in understanding the mechanism of germ cell development in all body segments of Pe. nuntia. We hypothesize that primordial germ cells are supplied from the pygidium to every newly-generating segment which later settle in the parapodium. This will explain how polychaetes can generate gametes in each body segment, even those that are independently separated with a complete septum.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34
JournalZoological Letters
Publication statusPublished - Dec 7 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'A model for germ cell development in a fully segmented worm.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this