The development and organization of the nervous systems of echinoderm larvae are incompletely described. We describe the development and organization of the larval nervous systems of Strongylocentrotus purpuratus and Asterina pectinifera using a novel antibody, 1E11, that appears to be neuron specific. In the early pluteus, the antibody reveals all known neural structures: apical ganglion, oral ganglia, lateral ganglia, and an array of neurons and neurites in the ciliary band, the esophagus, and the intestine. The antibody also reveals several novel features, such as neurites that extend to the posterior end of the larva and additional neurons in the apical ganglion. Similarly, in asteroid larvae the antibody binds to all known neural structures and identifies novel features, including large numbers of neurons in the ciliary bands, a network of neurites under the oral epidermis, cell bodies in the esophagus, and a network of neurites in the intestine. The 1E11 antigen is expressed during gastrulation and can be used to trace the ontogenies of the nervous systems. In S. purpuratus, a small number of neuroblasts arise in the oral ectoderm in late gastrulae. The cells are adjacent to the presumptive ciliary bands, where they project neurites with growth cone-like endings that interconnect the neurons. In A. pectinifera, a large number of neuroblasts appear scattered throughout the ectoderm of gastrulae. The cells aggregate in the developing ciliary bands and then project neurites under the oral epidermis. Although there are several shared features of the larval nervous systems of echinoids and asteroids, the patterns of development reveal fundamental differences in neural ontogeny.
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