Hooked on zombie worms? Genetic blueprints of bristle formation in Osedax japonicus (Annelida)

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This study sheds light on the genetic blueprints of chaetogenesis (bristle formation), a complex biomineralization process essential not only for the diverse group of bristle worms (annelids) but also for other spiralians. We explore the complex genetic mechanisms behind chaetae formation in Osedax japonicus, the bone-devouring deep-sea worm known for its unique ecological niche and morphological adaptations.

We characterized the chaetal structure and musculature using electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry, and combined RNAseq of larval stages with in-situ hybridization chain reaction (HCR) to reveal gene expression patterns integral to chaetogenesis. Our findings pinpoint a distinct surge in gene expression during the larval stage of active chaetogenesis, identifying specific genes and cells involved.

Our research underscores the value of studying on non-model, "aberrant" organisms like Osedax, whose unique, temporally restricted chaetogenesis provided insights into elevated gene expression across specific larval stages and led to the identification of genes critical for chaetae formation. The genes identified as directly involved in chaetogenesis lay the groundwork for future comparative studies across Annelida and Spiralia, potentially elucidating the homology of chaetae-like chitinous structures and their evolution.
Udgave nummer1
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - 2024

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© The Author(s) 2024.

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