Development Genes and Evolution

, Volume 229, Issue 1, pp 1–12 | Cite as

Early development of the feeding larva of the sea urchin Heliocidaris tuberculata: role of the small micromeres

  • Valerie B. MorrisEmail author
  • Eleanor Kable
  • Demian Koop
  • Paula Cisternas
  • Maria Byrne
Original Article


The two modes of development in sea urchins are direct development, in which the adult develops directly from the gastrula to the adult and does not feed, and indirect development, in which the adult develops indirectly through a feeding larva. In this account of the indirect, feeding larva of Heliocidaris tuberculata, the question raised is whether an evolutionary difference of unequal cell divisions contributes to the development of feeding structures in the indirect larva. In indirect development, the cell divisions at the fourth and fifth cell cycles of the zygote are unequal, with four small micromeres formed at the vegetal pole at the fifth cell division. In direct development, these cell divisions are not unequal. From their position at the head of the archenteron, the small micromeres are strategically located to contribute to the feeding tissues of the larva and the adult of H. tuberculata.


Development Evolution Morphogenesis Small micromeres Echinoderm Echinoidea Planktotroph Lecithotroph 



The authors acknowledge the facilities and the scientific and technical assistance of the Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility at the Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis, The University of Sydney.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valerie B. Morris
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eleanor Kable
    • 2
  • Demian Koop
    • 3
  • Paula Cisternas
    • 3
  • Maria Byrne
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Life and Environmental Sciences A12University of SydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis F09University of SydneyAustralia
  3. 3.School of Medical Sciences F13University of SydneyAustralia
  4. 4.School of Medical Sciences F13 and School of Life and Environmental Sciences A11University of SydneyAustralia

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