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Dev Biol. 1984 Sep;105(1):188-95.

Fertilization and early development in Beroe ovata.


Fertilization in the clear egg (1 mm in diameter) of the ctenophore Beroe ovata and, in particular, the positioning and movements of pronuclei, and their relationship to the larval oral-aboral axis have been observed. Fertilization can take place anywhere on the egg surface. The sperm pronucleus remains at its entry site and becomes surrounded by a specialized zone (30-50 micron in diameter) beneath the surface referred to as the sperm pronuclear zone or SPZ and devoid of large cortical granules. Polyspermy has been observed to be frequent; each pronucleus is surrounded by its own SPZ. Only the egg pronucleus migrates with a continuous velocity (averaging 18 micron/min) and moves beneath the surface directly toward the immobile sperm pronucleus. In polyspermic eggs, the egg pronucleus can probe several SPZ, each containing a single sperm nucleus, before it finally enters one SPZ and fuses with the chosen sperm pronucleus. These migrations of the egg pronucleus occur over several millimeters and take hours, but the mechanism underlying the motion or how the egg pronucleus decides which SPZ to enter is not yet known. Under our experimental conditions the mitotic apparatus and the first cleavage plane which defines the oral-aboral axis of the larva (see Reverberi (1971). "Experimental Embryology of Marine and Fresh-Water Invertebrates." North-Holland, Amsterdam. for review) pass through the point of sperm entry. During fertilization and cleavage, movements of a cortical autofluorescent material are clearly seen. This material is segregated into micromeres as cleavage progresses.

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