Embryos of temnopleurid sea urchins exhibit species-specific morphologies. While Temnopleurus toreumaticus has a wrinkled blastula and then invaginates continuously at gastrulation, others have a smooth blastula and their invagination is stepwise. We studied blastula and gastrula formation in four temnopleurids using light and scanning electron microscopy to clarify the mechanisms producing these differences. Unlike T. toreumaticus, blastomeres of mid-blastulae in T. reevesii, T. hardwickii and Mespilia globulus formed pseudopods. Before primary mesenchyme cells ingressed, embryos developed an area of orbicular cells in the vegetal plate. The cells surrounding the orbicular cells extended pseudopods toward the orbicular cell area in three Temnopleurus species. In T. toreumaticus, the extracellular matrix was well-developed and developed a hole-like structure that was not formed in others. Gastrulation of T. reevesii, T. hardwickii and M. globulus was stepwise, suggesting that differences of gastrulation are caused by all or some of factors: change of cell shape, rearrangement, pushing up and towing of cells. We conclude that (1) many aspects of early morphogenesis differ even among very closely related sea urchins with indirect development and (2) many of these differences may be caused by the cell shape and structure of blastomeres or by differences in extracellular matrix composition.
- Received April 12, 2016.
- Accepted August 31, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd
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