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Zoology (Jena). 2005;108(1):55-73. Epub 2005 Jan 20.

The effect of larval age on developmental changes in the polyp prepattern of a hydrozoan planula.

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  • Friday Harbor Laboratories, University of Washington, USA.


The larvae of many marine organisms including hydrozoans are lecithotrophic and will not feed until after metamorphosis. In hydrozoans the aboral region of the planula becomes the holdfast and stolon, while the oral region becomes the stalk and hydranth that grows out of the holdfast following metamorphosis. If metamorphosis is delayed, the portion of the planula allocated to form holdfast and stolon shrinks and the region that forms the hydranth increases in size. Planulae also have the ability to regenerate their polyp prepattern. When the aboral region of the planula that does not normally form a hydranth is isolated and metamorphosis is delayed, it acquires the capacity to form a hydranth from the holdfast. A relatively high proportion of entodermal cells of young planulae engage in DNA synthesis (BrdU labeling index); as planulae age, the labeling index falls close to zero. When the polyp prepattern is modified during planula regeneration, entodermal cells are induced to engage in DNA synthesis. If DNA synthesis is inhibited in planulae, the polyp prepattern changes during regeneration and age-related developmental changes in planula are inhibited, suggesting that DNA synthesis is a necessary part of the pattern respecification process.

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