Emily Kuehn, David S. Clausen, Ryan W. Null, Bria M. Metzger, Amy D. Willis, B. Duygu Özpolat

Nov 18, 2021
Journal of experimental zoology. Part B, Molecular and developmental evolution
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Development of sexual characters and generation of gametes are tightly coupled with growth. Platynereis dumerilii is a marine annelid that has been used to study germline development and gametogenesis. P. dumerilii has germ cell clusters found across the body in the juvenile worms, and the clusters eventually form the gametes. Like other segmented worms, P. dumerilii grows by adding new segments at its posterior end. The number of segments reflect the growth state of the worms and therefore is a useful and measurable growth state metric to study the growth‐reproduction crosstalk. To understand how growth correlates with progression of gametogenesis, we investigated germline development across several developmental stages. We discovered a distinct transition period when worms increase the number of germline clusters at a particular segment number threshold. Additionally, we found that keeping worms short in segment number, by manipulating environmental conditions or via amputations, supported a segment number threshold requirement for germline development. Finally, we asked if these clusters in P. dumerilii play a role in regeneration (as similar free‐roaming cells are observed in Hydra and planarian regeneration) and found that the clusters were not required for regeneration in P. dumerilii, suggesting a strictly germline nature. Overall, these molecular analyses suggest a previously unidentified developmental transition dependent on the growth state of juvenile P. dumerilii leading to substantially increased germline expansion.

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