Indexed on: 23 Sep '08Published on: 23 Sep '08Published in: Frontiers in Zoology
In order to increase the weak database concerning the organogenesis of Acoela - a clade regarded by many as the earliest extant offshoot of Bilateria and thus of particular interest for studies concerning the evolution of animal bodyplans - we analyzed the development of the musculature of Symsagittifera roscoffensis using F-actin labelling, confocal laserscanning microscopy, and 3D reconstruction software.At 40% of development between egg deposition and hatching short subepidermal fibres form. Muscle fibre development in the anterior body half precedes myogenesis in the posterior half. At 42% of development a grid of outer circular and inner longitudinal muscles is present in the bodywall. New circular muscles either branch off from present fibres or form adjacent to existing ones. The number of circular muscles is higher than that of the longitudinal muscles throughout all life cycle stages. Diagonal, circular and longitudinal muscles are initially rare but their number increases with time. The ventral side bears U-shaped muscles around the mouth, which in addition is surrounded by a sphincter muscle. With the exception of the region of the statocyst, dorsoventral muscles are present along the entire body of juveniles and adults, while adults additionally exhibit radially oriented internal muscles in the anterior tip. Outer diagonal muscles are present at the dorsal anterior tip of the adult. In adult animals, the male gonopore with its associated sexual organs expresses distinct muscles. No specific statocyst muscles were found. The muscle mantles of the needle-shaped sagittocysts are situated along the lateral edges of the animal and in the posterior end close to the male gonopore. In both juveniles and adults, non-muscular filaments, which stain positively for F-actin, are associated with certain sensory cells outside the bodywall musculature.Compared to the myoanatomy of other acoel taxa, Symsagittifera roscoffensis shows a very complex musculature. Although data on presumably basal acoel clades are still scarce, the information currently available suggests an elaborated musculature with longitudinal, circular and U-shaped muscles as being part of the ancestral acoel bodyplan, thus increasing the possibility that Urbilateria likewise had a relatively complicated muscular ground pattern.