Development and neural organization of the tornaria larva of the Hawaiian hemichordate, Ptychodera flava

Yoko Nakajima, Tom Humphreys, Hiroyuki Kaneko, Kunifumi Tagawa

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45 Citations (Scopus)


We report scanning and transmission electron microscopic studies of the early development of the Hawaiian acorn worm, Ptychodera flava. In addition, we provide an immunohistochemical identification of the larval nervous system. Development occurs and is constrained within the stout chorion and fertilization envelope that forms upon the release of the cortical granules in the cytoplasm of the egg. The blastula consists of tall columnar blastomeres encircling a small blastocoel. Typical gastrulation occurs and a definitive tornaria is formed compressed within the fertilization envelope. The young tornaria hatches at 44 hr and begins to expand. The major circumoral ciliary band that crosses the dorsal surface and passes preorally and postorally is well developed. In addition, we find a nascent telotroch, as well as a midventral ciliary band that is already clearly developed. The epithelium of tornaria is a mosaic of monociliated and multiciliated cells. Immunohistochemistry with a novel neural marker, monoclonal antibody 1E11, first detects nerve cells at the gastrula stage. In tornaria, 1E11 staining nerve cells occur throughout the length of the ciliary bands, in the apical organ, in a circle around the mouth, in the esophageal epithelium and in circumpylorus regions. Axon(s) and apical processes extend from the nerve cell bodies and run in tracks along the ciliary bands. Axons extending from the preoral and postoral bands extend into the oral field and form a network. The tornaria nervous system with ciliary bands and an apical organ is rather similar to the echinoderm bipinnaria larvae.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-78
Number of pages10
JournalZoological Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Jan
Externally publishedYes


  • Development
  • Hemichordate
  • Larval nervous system
  • Neural marker
  • Tornaria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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