Asymmetrical rotations of blastomeres in early cleavage of gastropoda

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The movements of blastomere surfaces marked with carbon particles during cytokinesis of the Ist–IVth cleavage divisions in the eggs of the gastropodsLymnaea stagnalis, L. palustris, Physa acuta and Ph. fontinalis have been studied by time-lapse cinematographic methods. The vitelline membrane was removed with trypsin. At 2- and 4-cell stages shifts of nuclei have also been studied.

Symmetrical as well as asymmetrical surface movements (in respect to the furrow plane) have been revealed.

Symmetrical surface movements at the beginning of cytokinesis consist mainly in contraction of the furrow zone and in expansion of the more peripheral regions; between these there is a stationary zone. After the end of cytokinesis the furrow region expands.

Considerableasymmetrical surface movements have also been observed in all four divisions. From anaphase until the end of cytokinesis each of the two sister blastomeres rotates with respect to the other in such a way, that if viewed along the spindle axis, the blastomere nearest to the observer rotates dexiotropically in a dextral species and laeotropically in a sinistral species (primary rotations). After the completion of cytokinesis the blastomeres may rotate in a reverse direction. The latter rotations are less pronounced in the IInd and IIIrd divisions and most pronounced in the IVth division. Blastomeres with the vitelline membrane intact retain a slight capacity for primary rotations. In normal conditions nuclei of the first two blastomeres shift mainly laeotropically in dextral species, but dexiotropically in sinistral species, being carried along by the reverse surface rotations.

The invariable primary asymmetrical rotations of blastomeres seem to be the basis of enantiomorphism in molluscan cleavage. They are assumed to be determined by an asymmetrical structure of the contractile ring carrying out the cytokinesis.