Helm, Conrad; Vöcking, Oliver; Kourtesis, Ioannis; Hausen, Harald
Owenia fusiformis – a basally branching annelid suitable for studying ancestral features of annelid neural development
BMC Evolutionary Biology
World Polychaeta Database (WPolyDb)
Comparative investigations on bilaterian neurogenesis shed light on conserved developmental mechanisms across taxa. With respect to annelids, most studies focus on taxa deeply nested within the annelid tree, while investigations on early branching groups are almost lacking. According to recent phylogenomic data on annelid evolution Oweniidae represent one of the basally branching annelid clades. Oweniids are thought to exhibit several plesiomorphic characters, but are scarcely studied - a fact that might be caused by the unique morphology and unusual metamorphosis of the mitraria larva, which seems to be hardly comparable to other annelid larva. In our study, we compare the development of oweniid neuroarchitecture with that of other annelids aimed to figure out whether oweniids may represent suitable study subjects to unravel ancestral patterns of annelid neural development. Our study provides the first data on nervous system development in basally branching annelids.