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J Embryol Exp Morphol. 1984 Feb;79:183-200.

Experimental analysis of control mechanisms in somite segmentation in avian embryos. II. Reduction of material in the gastrula stages of the chick.


A new theory of control of somite segmentation in chick embryos is proposed. This supposses that tiny clusters of already programmed cells are present throughout the presumptive somite area at stage 4, but that in order to fulfill their destiny they probably depend on the addition of further cells from the primitive streak. Evidence is based on the two groups of experiments: a) Experiments involving transection across the primitive streak at various stages, (which results in a 'tail' which possesses mesodermal derivatives) and across the segmental plate (which results in a 'tail' lacking mesodermal derivatives). b) Experiments in which parts of embryos have been explanted with or without their primitive streak. It is suggested that the initial clusters of pre-programmed cells move further and further posteriorly, developing into somitomeres (the precursors of true somites) only as they receive re-inforcements from the primitive streak or, ultimately, from the tail bud.

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