Experimental duplication of bilaterian body axes in spider embryos: Holm's organizer and self-regulation of embryonic fields.


Laboratory of Evolutionary Cell and Developmental Biology, JT Biohistory Research Hall, 1-1 Murasaki-cho, Takatsuki, Osaka, 569-1125, Japan. [Email]


Bilaterally symmetric body plans of vertebrates and arthropods are defined by a single set of two orthogonal axes, the anterior-posterior (or head-tail) and dorsal-ventral axes. In vertebrates, and especially amphibians, complete or partial doubling of the bilaterian body axes can be induced by two different types of embryological manipulations: transplantation of an organizer region or bi-sectioning of an embryo. Such axis doubling relies on the ability of embryonic fields to flexibly respond to the situation and self-regulate toward forming a whole body. This phenomenon has facilitated experimental efforts to investigate the mechanisms of vertebrate body axes formation. However, few studies have addressed the self-regulatory capabilities of embryonic fields associated with body axes formation in non-vertebrate bilaterians. The pioneer spider embryologist Åke Holm reported twinning of spider embryos induced by both types of embryological manipulations in 1952; yet, his experiments have not been replicated by other investigators, and access to spider or non-vertebrate twins has been limited. In this review, we provide a historical background on twinning experiments in spiders, and an overview of current twinning approaches in familiar spider species and related molecular studies. Moreover, we discuss the benefits of the spider model system for a deeper understanding of the ancestral mechanisms of body axes formation in arthropods, as well as in bilaterians.


Arthropod evolution,Axis specification,Chordin,Model organism,Parasteatoda tepidariorum,Spemann organizer,