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Dev Biol. 2003 Jun 1;258(1):57-69.

Embryonic cell lineage of the marine nematode Pellioditis marina.

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Ghent University, Department of Biology, K. L. Ledeganckstraat 35, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.


We describe the complete embryonic cell lineage of the marine nematode Pellioditis marina (Rhabditidae) up to somatic muscle contraction, resulting in the formation of 638 cells, of which 67 undergo programmed cell death. In comparison with Caenorhabditis elegans, the overall lineage homology is 95.5%; fate homology, however, is only 76.4%. The majority of the differences in fate homology concern nervous, epidermal, and pharyngeal tissues. Gut and, remarkably, somatic muscle is highly conserved in number and position. Partial lineage data from the slower developing Halicephalobus sp. (Panagrolaimidae) reveal a lineage largely, but not exclusively, built up of monoclonal sublineage blocs with identical fates, unlike the polyclonal fate distribution in C. elegans and P. marina. The fate distribution pattern in a cell lineage could be a compromise between minimizing the number of specification events by monoclonal specification and minimizing the need for migrations by forming the cells close at their final position. The latter could contribute to a faster embryonic development. These results reveal that there is more than one way to build a nematode.

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