Some polychaete species in the family Syllidae exhibit distinctive life cycles, in which a posterior part of the body of an individual detaches as a reproductive individual called a "stolon". This type of reproductive mode is known as stolonization or schizogamy. Although a number of observations have been reported, and techniques using molecular markers have recently been applied to characterize this phenomenon, little is known about the developmental and physiological mechanisms underlying stolonization. In the present study, Megasyllis nipponica, a common syllid species distributed throughout Japan, is proposed as a model to reveal the developmental and physiological mechanism of stolonization, and the rearing system to maintain it in laboratory conditions is described. This species was repeatedly sampled around Hokkaido, where more dense populations were found from August to October. The animals were maintained in the laboratory under stable long-day condition (20°C, 16L:8D), and fed mainly with spinach powder. Stolonization processes, spawning, embryonic and postembryonic development were observed and documented, and the required period of time for each developmental stage was recorded. The complete generation time was around two months under the rearing condition. The information provided is valuable to maintain this and other syllid species in the laboratory, and hence contributes to the establishment of new evolutionary and developmental research lines in this group of annelids.
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