The transparency of animals is an important biological feature. Ascidian eggs have various degrees of transparency, but this characteristic has not yet been measured quantitatively and comprehensively. In this study, we established a method for evaluating the transparency of eggs to first characterize the transparency of ascidian eggs across different species and to infer a phylogenetic relationship among multiple taxa in the class Ascidiacea. We measured the transmittance of 199 eggs from 21 individuals using a hyperspectral camera. The spectrum of the visual range of wavelengths (400–760 nm) varied among individuals and we calculated each average transmittance of the visual range as bio-transparency. When combined with phylogenetic analysis based on the nuclear 18S rRNA and the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene sequences, the bio-transparencies of 13 species were derived from four different families: Ascidiidae, Cionidae, Pyuridae, and Styelidae. The bio-transparency varied 10–90% and likely evolved independently in each family. Ascidiella aspersa showed extremely high (88.0 ± 1.6%) bio-transparency in eggs that was maintained in the “invisible” larva. In addition, it was indicated that species of the Ascidiidae family may have a phylogenetic constraint of egg transparency.
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