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Proc Biol Sci. 2008 May 7;275(1638):1023-8. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2007.1327.

The clonal composition of biramous and uniramous arthropod limbs.

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Institut für Biologie/Vergleichende Zoologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Philippstrasse 13, 10115 Berlin, Germany.


We present the first comparative cell lineage analysis of uniramous and biramous limbs of an arthropod, the crustacean Orchestia cavimana. Via single cell labelling of the cells that are involved in limb development, we are able to present the first complete clonal composition of an arthropod limb. We show that the two main branches of crustacean limbs, exopod and endopod, are formed by a secondary subdivision of the growth zone of the main limb axis. Additional limb outgrowths such as exites result from the establishment of new axes. In contrast to general belief, uniramous limbs in Orchestia are not formed by the loss of the exopod but by suppression of the split into exopod and endopod. Our results offer a developmental approach to discriminate between the different kinds of branches of arthropod appendages. This leads to the conclusion that a 'true' biramous limb comprising an endopod and an exopod might have occurred much later in euarthropod evolution than has previously been thought, probably either in the lineage of the Mandibulata or that of the Tetraconata.

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