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Development of the rhopalial nervous system in Aurelia sp.1 (Cnidaria, Scyphozoa)

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eScholarship - University of California
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Abstract

We examined the development of the nervous system in the rhopalium, a medusa-specific sensory structure, in Aurelia sp.1 (Cnidaria, Scyphozoa) using confocal microscopy. The rhopalial nervous system appears primarily ectodermal and contains neurons immunoreactive to antibodies against tyrosinated tubulin, taurine, GLWamide, and FMRFamide. The rhopalial nervous system develops in an ordered manner: the presumptive gravity-sensing organ, consisting of the lithocyst and the touch plate, differentiates first; the “marginal center,” which controls swimming activity, second; and finally, the ocelli, the presumptive photoreceptors. At least seven bilaterally arranged neuronal clusters consisting of sensory and ganglion cells and their neuronal processes became evident in the rhopalium during metamorphosis to the medusa stage. Our analysis provides an anatomical framework for future gene expression and experimental studies of development and functions of scyphozoan rhopalia.

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